Starter Guide to Baby Food and Nutrition

Switching from solely breastfeeding to semi-solid and solid foods is a gradual but important change in a baby’s life. It can be difficult in the initial days to determine what kind of foods to give to your baby to ensure that it receives the right amounts of nutrition required for its growth and development.

In the initial weeks, it will be important to determine the quantity that your baby can take in and ensure that he or she does not remain hungry. Measuring out portions and ensuring that it is taken in will help the baby get all the nutrition it requires.

Breastfeeding is an essential part of a baby’s formative years as it helps build immunity and a baby must be breastfed for at least 6 months after birth. It can continue to be breastfed for up to 2 years. Breast milk is said to be rich in antibodies and keeps future health risks at bay for the baby. However there comes a stage when a baby can both be breastfed and given solid foods so that the transition is gradual. Typical symptoms that a baby is ready to be given solid food is when he or she will be demanding extra milk feeds and waking up frequently during times when they used to previously sleep through. Chewing fists or any tendency to chew objects may also be indicative of their readiness to take in solid food.

Solid food from after 6 months would typically involve everything in mashed form or soft cooked and can include potatoes, ripe bananas, avocado, yam etc. This can gradually be upgraded to noodles, lentils, dairy products like yoghurt, custard with full fat but less sugar. Do ensure that your baby gets sips of water during meals which can be useful for the baby to salivate and swallow food.

Six months is the ideal age to start giving your baby solid foods. However waiting more than that can result in nutritional deficiencies; especially iron. Store bought cereals like barley or first foods for babies can also be given as they contain the required nutrition and vitamins necessary for the baby’s growth.

Starchy foods in the diet can comprise of rice, bread, pasta, potatoes and different forms of carbohydrates. Proteins would typically involve boiled and mashed meat, fish, eggs etc. while dairy products for bone development and other health benefits. Also try looking for vitamin D supplements to give your baby as this too helps in the development of bones. Foods like nuts and egg must be given with care and as later as possible because allergies can be detected and catered to better lowering the risk of its consequences as well. When introducing new foods, wait for 2-3 days after introducing one kind and observe to see if any symptoms develop to reduce any health risks.