meet baby’s developmental needs with food
give your baby what she needs when she needs it
Your little one has different nutritional needs that depend on her stage of development, and each baby’s cycle of growth and learning is unique. To make sure she’s getting what she needs when she needs it, always watch your baby and not the calendar.
REAL FOOD WITH WELL-BALANCED NUTRITIONIf your baby is consuming mostly breast milk or formula, along with the introduction of some solids, she is most likely getting most of the macro- and micronutrients needed from the milk or formula. After 4-6 months, iron supplementation should be introduced, but we recommend consulting with your doctor first. Baby’s supplemental solids are there to introduce her to new tastes, smells, and textures. If your baby is transitioning fully to solids, or already eating only solids, be sure to include a good variety of protein, fiber, and vitamins, and minerals in your baby’s diet. Remember, it’s not the nutrition at one meal but the balance of meals overall that you should be checking on while your baby is transitioning to solids. As they grow, though, the more key nutrients babies get throughout the day the better!
PALATE DEVELOPMENT > TASTE-BUD TRAININGTo help your baby develop a rich palate you can choose to start with simple foods and build up from there, or you can begin with something more complex. You can choose a single ingredient, one that is enhanced with herbs or spices, or a blend that you think baby will enjoy. Offering baby single ingredients will help her develop a taste for whole ingredients so she can learn to love them individually. But adding a hint of spice or herbs will only add nutritional value and a bolder flavor they may already be accustomed to, especially if she was breast-fed. Continue incorporating more options as you go.
EATING MECHANICS > BEYOND THE PUREEIf your child is still being breast-fed, then she is already receiving ample nutrients and wholesome fats—especially if mom has a healthy and dynamic diet herself. So it’s good to think about baby’s first foods as a means to introduce her to a variety of flavors, aromas, and textures. Finger foods can be great for early eaters, but they should always be soft. Draw from a variety of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and soft proteins. Nothing too sticky like nut butters, which can be a choking hazard. At age eight to nine months, if not sooner, babies want to self-feed from the pouch instead of mom holding the pouch and squeezing for them. Baby will likely give herself a facial in the process! But however it goes down, self-feeding helps her to practice her fine motor skills and even more importantly, it allows her to regulate how much she is eating. Babies intuitively know when they are sated and full. Follow their cues!
INTRODUCING PROTEINProtein is an important part of baby’s diet that she receives in the beginning months of her life from breast milk or formula. When your baby is ready for solids, it’s important to keep protein in mind. Proteins can be introduced at the same time as first foods. There are many proteins that are good options for your budding eater, including meats (fully-cooked) as well as vegetarian options like non-GMO edamame or tofu, fully cooked beans, organic whole milk yogurt, and cooked eggs. Whole grains, especially ancient grains, and vegetables can also be sources of protein, although they don’t generally provide a complete protein. (One star grain known for its unusually powerful punch of complete vegetarian protein, however, is quinoa.) When preparing proteins for baby, make sure that the format is perfect for your child’s development. If that means puree, mash, or finger foods (on the floor)—go for it!
WHAT FIRST FOODS SHOULD I AVOID?
- Honey until after 1 year due to the potential exposure to botulism spores
- Any kind of raw or undercooked fish or raw dairy or eggs
- Foods items that are hard or that, like popcorn and grapes, can become a choking hazard due to their size or form; remember that any vegetable larger than a pea size can get stuck in your child’s throat
- When your baby is sick or on antibiotics, avoid the top 8 allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish) because compromised immune system and digestion make babies more likely to have negative reactions.