Is your baby eyeing your meal? Here's a compact and easy-to-understand guide on which baby food to start with and what each stage entails. You've got this!
One day you have a newborn who's learning to burp, and then suddenly, they're sitting on your lap, reaching for your breakfast. Welcome to the world of trying to keep your food to yourself as your little one learns to chew, gag (a natural reaction), and swallow.
Starting solids is a fun, explorative phase as you see your baby's reaction to new flavors and textures. If you're a foodie, you'll love introducing your youngling to various spices, herbs, and meals. But first, you may wonder which baby food to start with and seek to learn various puree baby food stages, as well as what baby-led weaning entails.
Here's a compact and easy-to-understand guide on feeding your baby. You've got this!
From 4-6+ months, you can start your baby on stage 1 purees made from steamed, soft-cooked foods or easy-to-mash fruits like avocado. The purees can gradually become chunkier and less mashed as your baby develops their ability to swallow. Stage 1 food is as follows:
How long do you feed stage 1 baby food? That's entirely up to you and your baby. Puree their meal a little less than before, slowly introduce stage 2 purees, and see if they love it.
Once your babe has explored the stage 1 foods, you're ready to mix it up! Stage 2 foods can be more adventurous and include combination ingredients. For stage 2 meals, plan the following:
Your baby is getting chunky, and so is their food. Now that your little foodie has tried vast flavors, you can introduce stage 3 foods:
Now comes the natural progression to finger foods. From stage 4, your baby can start to eat a similar meal to the family, with small, easy-to-hold pieces of food. Developmentally, hand-feeding themselves is great for fine motor skills as your baby learns to pinch and pick up food. By this stage, your baby is well versed in chewing and can gnaw on corn off the cob or a slice of protein. Tips for baby food stages 4 table foods:
This phase is the same as offering finger foods but skipping the purees.
Baby-led weaning is an approach that encourages following your baby's natural feeding desire. It centers on the philosophy that a child is "developmentally capable of reaching for food and putting it in their mouths at about 6 months of age."
Baby-led weaning is a self-feeding method that has the following advantages:
Baby-led weaning has disadvantages like an increased risk of choking, so careful supervision is vital.
It's your choice as the parent to decide what you're comfortable with for your baby's mealtime and whether you want to go straight to baby-led weaning or journey through the 4 stages. A fed baby is a happy baby!
Your baby should be fed solids when they show signs of readiness. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not recommend introducing solids before 4 months of age.
Some developmental milestones that signal your baby's readiness for the world of food include sitting, controlling their neck and head, and being interested and curious about food. This may include grasping your food and bringing it to their open mouth. Another sign is that your baby can successfully swallow their food by transferring it from the front to the back of their tongue. If you've introduced food to your baby and they're struggling to do this, pause and try again in another week or two.
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