Developing healthy eating habits for baby is a process that begins when starting solids. Here’s three not-so-intuitive tips that new parents should know about feeding your baby her very first spoonful.
Know your objective.
When starting solids, the initial goal is for your baby to get used to the idea of eating, and learn how to move food from a spoon to the back of his mouth and then swallow it, says says Eileen Behan, RD, author of The Baby Food Bible. It’s a gradual process that could take weeks. In the meantime, breast milk or formula will remain his main source of nutrients.
Your infant’s first feedings when starting solids should consist of just half a teaspoon or two of a thick liquid (such as a blend of infant cereal or puréed, strained carrots mixed with breast milk or water). After your baby has mastered eating this, you can gradually start increasing the thickness and quantity of his food. By 7 to 10 months of age, he should be ready for mashed, ground or very finely chopped table food like mashed banana, minced cooked beef, sweet potatoes, or steamed and chopped zucchini.
Don’t force it!
Ultimately, your goal should be to feed your baby at regular times of day. But when you’re first starting solids, it’s best to do it when he’s showing signs of hunger, says Loraine H. Stern, MD, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) book Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (second edition). Start with one solid feeding a day for the first few months. Around 9 to 10 months, it should be time to add a second meal. By 12 months, he’ll be ready for two to three meals a day.