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What will a baby eat

September 9, 2020 | Hui Hui Lee, MS/RD/LD



(Food items sponsored by DRH Health’s Food and Nutrition Department)

I was looking back at my previous blog, and it brought to my attention that we have been talking a lot about adult nutrition, but the infant nutrition topic is kinda left out. Let’s make this September a little conversation about baby food.


The idea of talking about baby food does not happen overnight, it is actually something I learned lately. Many of my friends are entering a new life stage (getting married, having babies...). No matter how experienced they are (or they think they are), when it comes to feeding a baby, there are many questions and doubts. When in doubt, my best suggestion is to consult the professionals (like pediatric dietitians/pediatricians).


So the first question normally starts like this: breastfeeding or bottlefeeding? I definitely support breastfeeding for the first year of his or her life. By doing so, it is not just for the benefit of the health of your baby, it also greatly benefits you (as a mom). I understand it is easier to say than to do, but there are a lot of support and resources available for you. The recommended websites are la leche league, KellyMom, or you may reach out for help at 1-877-271-6455 (Breastfeeding Hotline). I know there is already a lot of information available, therefore I will skip this part for now.


What next after breastfeeding? Baby food. You will definitely ask when to introduce? How to introduce food? What type of food to start with?


When?


I highly recommend you first follow up with the pediatrician. Generally, your baby is ready for food, 1. when your baby is able to hold up his/her head while sitting in the high chair/feeding chair; 2. able to move food from spoon to his/her throat; 3. Showing interest with food.

How much to give your baby?


Introduction of solid foods is a gradual process, a journey to a healthy happy kid. Your patience is the KEY. At the early stage, while offering solid food to your little one, you want to also continue providing breastmilk and/or formula for the first year of life because solid foods are not meant to be the sole source of nutrition at this time.


To avoid frustration, you may want to give your baby a little breast milk, formula (or both), then provide some solid foods (about ½ tablespoon). Why? Let’s picture a hungry baby and at the stage of still learning how to eat, with tasty food sitting in front of him/her, the story normally ends with crying and frustration.


The first few solid-food feedings are generally for your babies to learn the food (smell, touch, or maybe even figure out what to do with the food). You may gradually offer more foods by a teaspoonful or two (if he/she is showing interest and eating it). Allow your baby to take his/her own time to learn to swallow solids.


Sitting down and having meals with your little one is highly recommended. The reasons are to prevent choking, to create a supportive environment for mealtime, and to nurture a healthy eating habit. Do pay attention to your baby’s cues when he/she has had enough to eat (I know you love your little one very much, and you want to provide them as much as you can, but overfeeding/overeating can lead to future health problems). The positive attitude towards healthy eating is extremely crucial, as a parent/caregiver, we should introduce the idea when they are young.


NOTE 1: Do not feed your baby solids when he/she is crying or turns away when feeding.


NOTE 2: Introducing new food to your little one definitely requires some of your patience. It may take up to 8-12 times of trying. But hey, it is definitely rewarding at the end of the day.

What foods to give my baby?


Rule of thumb: Foods that are SOFT, EASY TO SWALLOW, and CUT INTO SMALL PIECES. It is recommended to provide a wide variety of foods to your baby. A little bit of everything: vegetables (less for the stringy vegetables like asparagus), fruits, grains, meats, eggs, fish.

There is no evidence of the order of food to introduce. If you are concerned about food allergies (you notice your baby having diarrhea, rash, vomiting), please do consult your pediatrician.



(Food items sponsored by DRH Health’s Food and Nutrition Department)

How to feed my baby?


There are a lot of strategies parents/caregivers use to introduce solid food to their babies. The most common ones are spoon-feeding purees and baby-led weaning. Spoon-feeding method is you as a parent taking the control over feeding your little one with pureed food; baby-led weaning, on the other hand, your baby learns to eat by feeding him or herself on finger foods. There is no right or wrong, whichever way you choose to feed the baby, as long as she/he learns to eat safely and hopefully develops more interest to eat regular consistent food.




(Images credited to Weddington-Nunez, Jessica)








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