Article: Baby's First Foods
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The Canadian Paediatric Society of Canada Nutrition Committee recommends that "infants should be introduced to nutrient-rich solid foods with particular attention to iron at six months.1" You should not start solids before four months.
The most common first food for babies is iron fortified infant cereals followed by vegetables, fruit and then meats and combinations.
Try rice cereal first, as it is easiest to digest and your baby is least likely to be allergic to it. Heinz® Baby Cereals are fortified with iron which is depleted in the body by this time. Each serving of cereal contains 100% of your baby's daily iron needs. Once rice cereal is well accepted by your baby for 3-5 days, you can progress onto another "single grain" cereal such as barley or oatmeal. Do not give your baby mixed grains until you are sure he can tolerate the different grains.
How Much Food
Your baby will be having at least four to five breastfeedings per day or about 1000 ml of formula and you should be aiming for two to three solid feedings per day. Remember that your baby's appetite will vary but a solid meal is typically about three to six tablespoons of food.
Starting with rice cereal mixed with pumped breast milk or formula or water is a perfect way to introduce your baby to solids. Prepare the rice cereal according to the instructions on the packet - it should be about the consistency of thin custard at first, gradually becoming thicker over time. Offer only single grain cereals, one at a time for 3-5 days each, until you are sure your baby will not have a reaction. Then you may try mixed grain cereals.
At first you may put cereal on your finger or just place the spoon up to your baby's lips, not in his mouth. Allow your baby to suck on the spoon and become familiar with the feel of the spoon until he learns to take food from it. The texture of cereals can be thickened as your baby develops chewing skills.
Vegetables and Fruit
The next thing to introduce is finely pureed or strained vegetables and then fruits, rich in vitamins A and C and other important nutrients.
The procedure for starting is the same as for cereals. Introduce one new food at a time, 3-5 days apart, and keep an eye out for undesirable reactions. Offer single foods, such as pureed peas or carrots, before combinations.
Serve Vegetables First
Vegetables are typically the most difficult for infants to accept and like so it's best to start with them first. Fruits are naturally sweeter and babies usually prefer them.
At first your baby needs pureed food until he becomes used to the idea of having food from a spoon. Pureed food only requires swallowing. Once a range of foods have been tried, move onto combination foods with more texture. Use Stage 2 Strained (From 6 months) and Stage 3 Junior foods (From 8 months).
Meats and Alternatives
You're ready to move to the next stage after your baby has become used to vegetables and fruit and is not quite so surprised when you offer new foods. This is when you can introduce strained meat, fish and poultry or alternatives such as dried beans, lentils or egg yolk. You may also introduce strained meats as a first solid food as they are high in iron.
Avoid egg white during the first year as it may cause an allergic reaction.
To minimize your concerns about feeding your baby, try to remember the following important points:
Remember that while you may have to try feeding a particular food on several occasions before your baby accepts it, it is important never to force your child to eat anything. Eating should be a positive experience, so if he rejects a food one day, simply put it away and make a mental note to try again in a week or so. In all likelihood you'll get a positive reception on a future try.
In the Diaper
You may notice that, at first, flecks of vegetable appear in baby's bowel movement. This is quite normal and as his digestive system matures this will not be as noticeable.
1. Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and Health Canada, 2005
When starting solids, start with an iron fortified rice cereal as it is the easiest to digest and the least likely to cause an allergic reaction in your baby.