The day your baby starts eating solids is an important milestone, and you can help set him or her up on the path to healthy eating by making your own. “Going from all milk or formula to real food can be daunting,” says Lisa Courtois, senior product manager at Béaba, a baby-food product company based in Hoboken, New Jersey. “Puréeing fresh, local, and organic produce and meat—rather than using canned baby food—lets you know exactly what’s in the food your child is eating.”
When your baby begins eating puréed peaches and avocados, she’ll naturally cut back on nursing or bottle-feeding. “Parents need to pay attention to diet as this happens,” says Kathleen Reidy, Dr.P.H., R.D., co-author and investigator of Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Liza Huber, author of Sage Spoonfuls—Simple Recipes, Healthy Meals, Happy Babies and creator of the Sage Spoonfuls homemade baby food system, to shares tips for starting solids and family meal planning in addition to four recipes from her new book.
British researchers say allowing babies to feed themselves fruits, vegetables, meat and bread—known as baby-led weaning—may teach them to better regulate their own appetites. The study showed that 6-month-old babies introduced to finger foods they could pick up and eat on their own rather than being primarily spoon-fed were less likely to be overweight or obese through age 6 ½.
I believe each family should choose the best time for themselves and their baby. That said, bottles do begin to cause “bucking” of the permanent teeth at age 3 years or so, and using a bottle beyond age 1 can lead to cavities in some babies.
Whenever you do it, consider transitioning to a spill-proof sippy cup, as they’re far less messy than a traditional cup.
As a trained chef and creator of Weelicious, a website (weelicious.com) dedicated to healthy eating for babies, toddlers and kids, I’ve learned that one of the easiest ways to add extra zip to homemade baby food is with herbs and spices. One of the first vegetables I offered my son, Kenya, was puréed butternut squash. Much to my chagrin, he rejected it on the first three tries. But on the fourth go-round, I added a pinch of pumpkin pie spice and, voilà! He gobbled it up.
You'd probably do just about anything when you’re pregnant to keep your baby from developing food allergies. Avoid shrimp? Check. Stay away from eggs? No problem. Skip soy? Consider it done. Unfortunately, the advice on how to prevent food allergies keeps changing. So where does that leave you if someone offers you a peanut butter cookie?
When our daughter started solids four years ago, my husband and I had the do's and don'ts memorized: wait until she's 6 months old, introduce cereal first and absolutely no eggs. Lucky for you, parents today can reject many of the strict rules we sweated just a few years back. Take a look:
Old Rule: Give nothing but breast milk for 6 months.
Your toddler clamps his mouth shut, turns his head away and screams--loudly--as if you're inflicting the worst kind of torture on his fragile soul. The offense? Vegetables.
When your baby is nursing well (usually by 2 to 3 weeks old), give her a bottle at one feeding—or, better yet, ask your partner to do it in the wee hours so you can get some sleep, Karp says. Don’t wait longer than 4 weeks, or she’ll be more likely to refuse it. Also try not to give more than one bottle per day; switching back and forth too much may cause nipple confusion. If you hope to breastfeed for months to come—and experts recommend continuing through the first year—beware of topping off your nursing sessions with a bottle.
Many a mom has heard that beans, broccoli, chili peppers, garlic and onions should be avoided like the plague while breastfeeding. But if you devoured these foods during pregnancy, they probably won’t bother your baby now, says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Breastfeeding.