As we all know, babies do not come with an instruction manual. Oh, don't we all wish they did? It would be so much easier if we had a book we could reference that told us what each different-sounding cry means or how long you can hold your baby without spoiling her or even what some of the best health options are for him! Being a new parent is sometimes hard, especially when you just wish someone was there to even give you some kind of guideline to follow. Well, after speaking with Dr. Solari, we can offer a guideline for one of the common questions new parents have: "What should my baby eat and when?" When should a baby start on real foods? How long should I breast feed? When can a child start drinking regular milk? The following is a guideline to these question and more!
Newborns: Newborns should have a strict diet consisting only of breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. "Breast is best," says Dr. Solari, but if you are unable to do so, formula is the next best thing. Don't get discouraged if you must formula feed or even supplement by feeding your newborn breast milk and formula. She is still getting all of the nutrition she needs to grow healthy and strong!
3-4 Months: Let the fun begin! You can start to introduce infant cereal. When first introducing cereal to your baby, create the mix to mostly be breast milk/formula (giving it more flavor). By making it more liquid to start, this will help your little one eat it a bit easier. As the days go by, slowly begin making the cereal a bit more "mushy" instead of "watery". Cereal, however, should not go into a baby's bottle, but rather be spoon-fed to get them used to eating from a spoon. A bottle of breast milk/formula may be in addition to the cereal as adults take drinks with their meal.
Despite the rumors, giving a baby infant cereal before 3-4 months of age will not help them "sleep through the night" or affect their sleep in any way. This is simply an old wives tale.
4-5 Months: Time for new flavors! At this age, while still drinking breast milk/formula, a baby can also start to try stage 1 foods. Put simply, these are just foods that have been pureed to almost liquid. At the beginning, only indroduce one food at a time. For example, give your child stage 1 carrots for 2-3 days. If he shows no signs of being allergic to carrots, then introduce green beans, giving him carrots and green beans for 2-3 days. If no allergies noted, continue with other foods in the same manner. Before long, he will be enjoying many different kinds of food!
6-8 Months: Getting better at this eating thing! Your growing baby can now start stage 2 foods. As you will see, these foods have a bit more texture to them. Not quite as "watery", but still not "chunky" - just somewhere in between. She should also still be getting plenty of breast milk/formula and can also now begin receiving finger-foods such as puffs and orginal Cheerios, and she can start trying very soft table foods like mashed potatoes!
9 Months: Well on their way! This is the time babies can begin stage 3 foods which contains whole pieces of food such as the small pieces of noodles in the Spaghetti Stage 3. He is now ready to begin trying more whole pieces of table foods that are softer and easy to "chew" even without any/all of his teeth. Remember to be giving your child breast milk or formula along with all these fun and exciting food adventures!
12 Months: Continue allowing them to try new foods and very slowly increasing the firmness as your toddler starts getting more teeth and getting used to chewing her food. When she turns one year old, her body will be abe to process whole milk.While it is perfectly healthy to stop breast milk/formula at this age and make the complete switch to whole milk, it is also perfectly healthy to continue with breast milk/formula. The main thing to avoid at this age is 2% milk or 1% milk. A toddler needs whole milk until she turns 2 years old, at which she can begin drinking whatever kind of milk the rest of the family drinks!
Hopefully having this general feeding guideline will take one less worry off of new parent's plates. Introducing new foods and discovering your baby's favorite tastes are a fun adventure for children and parents alike! Sometimes feeding time can be messy as they first learn how to eat while most of it rolls down their chin, then trying to begin feeding themselves, but always enjoy meal time together. They won't be little for long!