What and when to feed babies

Introducing solids needn’t be a nightmare with these tips from Anne Marpole, nurse at Infinity Health Clinic


When should I start my baby on solids?
From six months old, when breast milk or formula no longer meets your baby’s daily nutritional requirements. Some babies will be ready for solids earlier, and rice cereal can be introduced from four months.

How can I tell when he’s ready?
Your baby is ready for solid food if he shows any of the following signs:

• He wakes up hungry at night when he has previously slept through.
• He demands milk long before his normal feeding times.
• He is irritable between feeds.
• He can hold his head up when sitting upright.
• He reaches for food.

When and how do I introduce different foods?
Stage 1
(six to seven months)
Rice cereal is a great starter food as it’s easily thinned to a creamy texture, easily digested, unlikely to trigger allergies and it contains iron. Introduce small amounts at a time of day when your breast milk supply is at its lowest (late afternoon) or when your baby is hungry. Initially offer him a small amount of milk followed by the rice cereal as it can be challenging to introduce new foods to a hungry and frustrated baby. Once he’s used to the cereal, you can offer solids first, followed by milk. Introduce a new food such as pureed fruits and vegetables (pears, apples and sweet potato) every three days, in the morning, so you can monitor your baby’s reaction. If he has an adverse reaction such as diarrhoea, vomiting or a rash, remove the food from the menu and try it again two to three weeks later. If it happens again, talk to your pediatrician. You can also start introducing chicken, fish, meat, and pulses. By the end of the sixth month your baby should be having two solid meals, working towards a third by the seventh month per day, as well as four to five milk feeds.

Stage 2
(seven to nine months)
Introduce dairy products, pasta, wheat, hard-boiled egg yolks, full-fat cheese. Cow’s milk can be used in cooking but should not be given as a drink until one year. Food can be mashed rather than pureed but it shouldn’t be lumpy. Encourage your baby to start picking up food by offering finger foods such cooked soft vegetables. He should now be having three solid meals and three milk feeds a day.

Stage 3
(from nine months)
Gradually offer him chopped food to encourage him to chew. Continue to offer finger foods and give him his own spoon to hold so he can try to feed himself. He will still need two to three milk feeds during the day together with drinks of cooled boiled water with meals. By his first birthday he should be enjoying a wide variety of foods and be drinking from a beaker.

Should I make my own baby food or use ready-made varieties?
Either is fine. The advantage of making food for your child is that he will become accustomed to the taste of your family’s food. When preparing family meals, remove meat and veg for baby before you add salt, spices, peanuts etc, then freeze small portions (ice cube trays work well) for later.

Do I have to use organic produce?
Organic food does contain fewer additives, growth stimulators, pesticides, but your child will be adequately nourished on a well-balanced diet of organic or non-organic food.

How will his stool change?
Brace yourself, because what goes in must come out! When you feed your baby pureed carrot, the contents of his next nappy will be bright orange. As he progresses onto a variety of foods, his stools will become thicker, darker and a lot smellier!
Anne runs Introducing Solids classes at Infinity Health Clinic, Al Wasl Road (opposite Park ‘n’ Shop). There’s one on Wednesday, July 14th and another on August 4th, 7pm-9.30pm, Dhs400 (04 394 8994 /
050 458 2633)

How to develop healthy eating habits

• Introduce vegetables before fruit so that his sweet tooth does not develop too strongly.
• Offer a variety of different healthy foods.
• Next to milk, cooled, boiled water should be the main source of hydration. Limit fruit juices and dilute with water.
• Never add sugar
• Be a good role model
• Create a relaxed and positive atmosphere at mealtimes
• Never force baby to eat
• Don’t give up. What he refuses this week, he may eat readily next week.

Freeze facts

• Never freeze warm food.
• Keep the freezer temperature at 18C or less.
• Label and date food and use within six months.
• Never refreeze food once thawed.
• Defrost food overnight in the fridge and use within 24 hours.
• Always reheat the food to kill any possible bacteria. Only ever reheat the food once, throw away any leftovers.

What equipment do I need?

• A chair or high chair
• A bib
• A plastic spoon
• A bowl for the food
• A beaker

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