What Is Baby Food
A baby food may be any kind of food which is soft and easily consumed, given to a baby beside breast milk. It differs from infant formula foods. It is roughly started when the baby is 4-6 months of age. It may be regular family foods mashed or broken down while feeding. It also can be available ready made in the market.
When your baby grows up to 4 months or more only breast milk is not sufficient to meet his/her nutritional needs. A supplementary food is required to add to the diet of the baby. A supplementary food is defined as the additional food given to the baby. It’s also called complementary food or weaning food. It is necessary for normal growth and development of the infant. You should give semisolid, liquid or soft solid diet as supplementary foods.
Starting of a supplementary food based on the baby’s nutritional needs and developmental readiness. There are some signs by which you can understand that your baby is ready to take supplementary foods.
- Look whether your baby can hold his or her head upright while sittings on a chair.
- Your baby gains a weight by this time which is double to his/her birth weight.
- The baby is able to take foods from a spoon and close his/her mouth around the spoon.
Amount of food to be given to the baby:
According to the World Health Organization recommendation, supplementary foods should be started with small amounts and gradually increased as the child grows up. For infant having 6-8 months of age, you should give supplementary food in 2-3 meals a day. Infants aged 9-23 months should be given 3-4 meals a day with 1 or 2 additional snacks.
Types of foods to be given:
Up to 1 year of age, breast milk is the only source of calories and nutrients for the baby. Baby’s weaning foods may contain many types of soft and liquid foods. Before serving the food to the baby it should be mashed and make tastier. Following foods you can add to your baby’s foods menu:
- Cereals – Babies may have small bites of cereal-based foods. More than 90% of babies aged 6-2 years are able to eat mashed rice, bread, pasta, noodles, crackers, biscuits etc. Other grains and cereal-based foods are not eligible for this aged babies.
- Fruits – Babies aged four to five months may eat some type of fruits. Fresh fruits like apple, fresh ripe bananas, grapes, orange etc. could be the best baby foods. Babies can also take these fruits as fruits juice preparation. Fruits will meet the needs of vitamins and minerals of the baby. It is easy to consume fruits and fruit products at the age of nine to twenty-three months.
- Vegetables – Vegetables are also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. More than 60% of babies can eat vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to consume for the babies. But if you cook them with less or no spices, it will suitable for your baby. Potatoes are very commonly used as a baby food for many years. You also can mix vegetables with rice and feed the baby. It will tastier the baby.
- Meat, fish, eggs & milk – These very rich in high-quality protein. It is better to avoid eggs as supplementary food for young infants as it may be allergic to the baby. More than 90% of babies aged 9 to 16 months are given minimum a protein containing food per day. Plant-based proteins are also good for babies. Meat, fish, liver should be properly cooked before serving it to the baby. Among plant sources, nuts, beans, cheese are the very good source of protein.
- Snacks – Snacks should be served one or two times a day with regular meals to older babies and toddler. From nine months of age of the baby, should be started along with the main menu. Snacks usually prepared for the baby are noodles, pasta, biscuits, cakes, baked foods, fruit juice etc. There are various types of readymade baby foods available in the market. You can give them to your baby only after checking their quality. Snacks with heavy saturated fats, salty should be avoided as they are responsible for obesity and over-weight.
Complimentary foods are necessary for growth and development of a baby. Foods cooked for family members can be given as complimentary food to the baby. It will help to make a good food habit of the child.