Infants can digest only liquid food – breast milk or formula milk. However, when a baby reaches 5-6 months old, it’s time to introduce him/her to the first solid foods. Parents need to be smart about it, obviously, to make the process of altering a baby’s ration easy and comfortable for the little one. To help you plan your child’s first solid meals, we’ll offer you in this post a few perfect ideas of porridges, mini meals, and toddler snacks to add to your baby’s meal plan.
Give Solid Foods To Your Baby No Earlier Than 5 Months Old
The very youngest age when a child can physically digest solid foods is 5 months old. And even then, most babies aren’t ready until 6 months old, so don’t rush your little champ and let him/her make the transition from milk to solid foods at his/her pace. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to give complementary foods to your kid, consult with a pediatrician. And if your baby has any health or stomach issues, it’s an obligatory thing to ask for a doctor’s advice as to when and what products to start from.
The first solid foods for your child should be mashed, sugar-free, and rich in vitamins and prebiotic fibers. Hard fruits and veggies should be cooked to soften them. It’s great when your kid’s porridge or puree has different colors, flavors, and textures – no one wants to eat the same food day after day, so try to diversify your precious one’s meals.
Is A Vegan Diet A Good Idea For My Baby?
Today, a lot of people prefer a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, which is totally fine for adults, but will it suit your baby as well? Pediatricians and nutritionists highly advise adding animal products to a baby’s ration – at least animal milk, eggs, fish, dairy products, etc.
A vegan diet (without any meat and milk) is not recommended for toddlers. At the same time, a vegetarian diet can be an option, but parents should be very careful to add such required nutrients as iron, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. If a baby doesn’t receive the mentioned elements, it can lead to health problems, in general, and development problems, in particular. Of course, any dietary restrictions must be approved by a pediatrician.
Products That Can Be Complementary Foods For Your Baby
During the process of introducing solid foods to your little one, combine breast milk or formula with a small amount of complementary foods. The first dishes to offer your baby are porridges and purees. Among the other options, there can be:
- Cow’s milk
- Cooked eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Foods containing gluten
- Cooked fish and shellfish
Important Tips And Pieces Of Advice
- The best time of day for complementary foods is noon and afternoon. In the morning and evening, continue to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby at first. After some time, replace lunch, and then breakfast as well, with a milk porridge or another porridge. Add solid foods for supper, but you can still offer your little one some milk before going to bed so that he/she falls asleep faster and stays calmer during the night.
- To cook milk porridge for your kid, you can use natural cow’s milk or baby formula. Animal milk is a good option, although organic baby formula closest to breastmilk might be even better, as its composition is known and well-chosen. At the same time, plant milk alternatives, such as soy, rice, oat, coconut, cashew, and almond milk are allowed only for babies older than 12 months, so don’t use them for a younger baby’s meal.
- Nutritionists advise to add new solid foods every 2-3 days. This means that you can feed your little champ with, for example, carrot and pumpkin mash for dinner 3 days in a row, and then switch to another option. This gives you enough time to understand whether your baby is allergic to one of the components of such porridge and determine which ingredients he/she likes best.
- To pique your baby’s interest, switch from one flavor to another every few days or during one day. For example, you can cook a cereal porridge, a vegetable porridge, a fruit porridge, a meat porridge, or a fish porridge. Use different kinds of veggies, fruits, cereals, fish, and meat. Combine them and search for your toddler’s favorite flavors.
- When you’re making a mash for your kid’s meal, you can either choose one flavor or combine several ingredients. The first option will let you understand if your baby has any allergies and which tastes he/she prefers. The second option will help you make the porridge or puree more delicious and interesting for your child.
Classic And Creative First-Food Options
- Milk-cereal porridge (use cow’s milk or formula milk)
- Fruit porridge (use 1 or several fruits, but pay close attention to any allergic reactions)
- Fruit-cereal porridge
- Milk muesli
- Peanut butter and banana puree
- Vegetable-potato-meat porridge (mix meat with potato and veggies of your choice – carrot, spinach, cauliflower, parsnip, pumpkin, peas, broccoli, fennel, courgettes, etc)
- Veggies mix (use 2-3 vegetables, don’t add too many flavors)
- Baby fish pie
- Avocado puree
- Sweet potato puree
- Pea and mint puree with goat cheese
- Vegetable-meat porridge (take any veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, peas, etc)
- Vegetable-fish porridge
- Milk-cereal porridge
- Fruit-cereal porridge
- Veggies mix
- Butternut squash puree
- Fruit-yogurt puree
Babies grow and develop quickly. It seems like just yesterday, breastfeeding was your only option but it’s already time to give some first solid foods to your little one. It’s okay if you feel confused and not sure about what you can and can’t offer your child to eat. Pediatricians, nutrition specialists, and specialized websites will help you find the best options for your baby’s meals. The main things you need to remember are: 1) watch closely your infant or toddler’s reactions to complementary foods to notice potential allergic reactions; 2) make the meals tasty and exciting by adding colors and flavors; 3) cook diverse foods, use veggies, fruits, cereals, meat, and fish to provide a range of nutrients for your baby’s development and well-being.