How to Introduce Food to Babies Safely
Are you concerned about how to introduce food to babies? We'll tell you how to go about it safely in the following article.
Experts recommend parents introduce food to babies from the time a baby reaches 6 months. This is because their digestive system is already fully developed and they already have the motor skills to eat on their own.
How to introduce food to babies
The most important thing is that you always sit in front of your baby while they’re eating to ensure their safety. Generally, the extrusion reflex in the face of the risk of choking disappears.
As parents, you have two options: mashed foods or baby-led weaning. Both styles are recommended, although you should guarantee the following before you begin:
- Your chid can sit up and hold their head upright.
- They have hand, eye and mouth coordination in order to see the food, grasp it their hands or spoon, and eat it.
- They can swallow food without spitting it out (if you choose the baby-led weaning method).
Another aspect to take into account is to wait for at least 3-4 days to introduce a new food to see if your child displays any allergic reaction. On the other hand, the order with which you introduce different foods isn’t all that important. This may sound a little strange, but numerous scientific investigations over time have concluded that these sort of preferences are mostly cultural.
Furthermore, in reference to allergy prevention, there’s no advantage for children at risk of celiac disease, but yes in the case of peanuts and eggs. So far, it’s known that the earlier and greater exposure (small daily doses) reduces the prevalence in children with a family history and increased risk.
Tips for safe food introduction
First of all, don’t distract your baby or make them laugh, and avoid offering more food before they finish what’s in their mouth. This way, you’ll reduce the risk of choking. Second, remember to avoid the following foods until 12-24 months of age:
- Large oily fish, because of their high mercury content. These are tuna, pike, blue shark, etc.
- Spinach and chard, because of their nitrate content.
- Dairy products.
- Honey (because of botulism).
- Sugar (and products that contain it).
- Whole round and hard foods.
Keep in mind that, if you want to offer them nuts, they should be crushed or ground as an ingredient of some dish. From the age of 3, they can be eaten whole, since they have all their teeth and have a greater ability to chew sufficiently.
We also advise you to start with the mild-tasting foods and those you’ve eaten while breastfeeding, as they usually give the milk some flavor. This is why fruit, vegetables, and grains are always offered first.
If you opt to introduce food to babies traditionally, then wash, peel, and mash the fruit well. You can also cook certain foods, like vegetables, but make sure they’re soft. However, if you prefer baby-led weaning, cut it into pieces big enough for you to hold in their hands.
As for the legumes, remove the skin so that they’re easier to digest and don’t produce gas. Also, puree them or mash them with a fork. Little ones can eat them with a spoon or you spread them on a piece of bread without crust or mold. Finally, as for meat and fish, remove any bones beforehand.
Example of a varied and safe menu
Breakfast: Oatmeal with pieces of banana or strawberries
Mid-morning: Mother’s milk or a berry shake
Lunch: Mashed or sautéed zucchini and carrot with chicken or fish (mahi mahi, tilapia, sole, goosefish, sardines)
Snack: 1 slice of bread with 100% nut spread or crushed peas with olive oil
Dinner: Mashed or cubed squash and potato, or rice, and chopped egg seasoned with olive oil
Before going to sleep: Breast milk
Finally, introduce food to babies progressively, increasing the quantity and variety according to your their tolerance, and staying close at all times. That way, you’ll assure their safety and autonomy.