Are you sure your baby is getting all of the nutrients they need?
For their first four to six months, babies get all the nutrients they need to thrive from breast milk and/or formula. Considering how dizzying those early days are, it’s a big relief knowing that — at least when it comes to feeding your baby — you’re pretty much covered.
But that’s exactly why making the switch to solids can feel so daunting: Not only is it up to you to make sure you’re supplying a diet made up of the best foods for your baby, but babies are also all over the appetite map at this stage of the game.
How much should babies eat?
Some eat a lot all the time, some eat very little most of the time, others eat like a mouse one day and a horse the next. Some are varied and adventurous eaters (maniacs for meat, voracious for veggies), others are particularly picky. How can you make sure your baby is getting the nutrition he needs?
When presented with a wide variety of wholesome foods and allowed to follow their appetites, almost all healthy babies eat as much as they need to grow and thrive. No need to keep a running tab — or cram a certain number of servings of each food group into your baby's mouth every day. Not only is that a sure way to drive yourself crazy, it's bound to set the stage for food squabbles in the high chair and, later, at the table.
So as you introduce more and more foods into your baby's repertoire, resist the urge to push, measure or count servings, and instead aim for a mix of good-for-baby-foods from the following nutritional categories:
ProteinBaby's still getting most of the protein he needs from breast milk or formula. But since that picture will change once those first birthday candles are blown out, now's a good time for your little one to start sampling other protein-packed foods, including eggs, meat, chicken, fish and tofu. Calcium-rich foods (especially whole milk cottage cheese and ricotta) and some grains can also double as excellent protein sources.
Both breast milk and formula provide all the calcium your baby needs for the first year. Baby-friendly calcium-rich foods like whole milk cheese (cheddar, muenster, Edam, Havarti, baby Swiss, Colby or Monterey Jack, for example) and whole milk yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheese are yummy, nutritious additions, and also add protein.
Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates
These high chair favourites will add essential vitamins and minerals, as well as some protein, to baby's daily intake. Good options, as they're introduced, include whole grain bread, whole grain cereal (baby cereal for spoon-feeding, bite-size cereal for self-feeding), whole grain pasta (bite-size is typically a big hit), brown rice or quinoa, lentils, beans and peas.
Vitamins A, B, C and E
These four vitamins boost your baby from top to bottom, promoting healthy brain and nerve development, as well as proper functioning and development of the eyes, skin and immune system.
The secret to getting them into your little one’s diet: Feed him the rainbow! Carrots and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A; green veggies, bananas and beans are packed with B vitamins; tomatoes, strawberries and cantaloupe are full of C; and cereal and grains are rich in E.
Introducing The Fruit Pacifier! Our unique design helps soothe any baby while introducing a nutritious fruit of your choice into their diet. Simply place fresh fruit or another food into the nipple of the pacifier. The Fruit Pacifier™ is perfect for all babies, no matter how hungry or fussy!
High-fat foodsBabies who get most of their calories from breast milk or formula get all the fat and cholesterol they need. As they switch to a more varied diet and spend less time breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, it's important to make sure that fat and cholesterol intake don't dip too low.
That's why most dairy products you serve baby (cottage cheese, yogurt, hard cheese) should be full-fat or made from whole milk. You can also add a healthy dose of fat by serving avocado, or cooking with canola or olive oil.
Bottle-fed babies get their full share of iron from fortified formula, but breastfed babies need another source. Fortified baby cereal can fit the bill easily, and additional iron can come from iron-rich foods such as meat, egg yolks, wheat germ, whole grain breads and cereals, and cooked dried peas and other legumes as they are introduced into the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acidsPart of the family of essential fatty acids, omega-3s (including DHA) are vital for your infant's growth, vision and optimal brain development — more than living up to their headline-making reputation as baby brain food.
These fabulous fats are served up naturally in breast milk, but are also used to enrich some formulas and baby foods. Once baby's eating repertoire expands, you can add other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish (like salmon), grass-fed meat, tofu, flaxseed, canola oil and DHA-enriched yogurt, cereal and eggs
FluidsDuring the first four to six months of life, virtually all of a baby's fluids come from bottle or breast — no supplementary water is usually needed. But once baby starts solids around 4 to 6 months of age, small amounts will start to come from other sources, including sips of water with meals and juicy fruits and vegetables.
As the quantity of formula or breast milk taken begins to decrease, it's important to be sure that the total fluid intake doesn't. In hot weather, it should increase, so offer water when temperatures soar. You can also give babies over 12 months small amounts of real-fruit juice diluted with water.
Remember, don't worry about serving sizes or numbers of servings. Instead, provide a variety of good-for-baby foods and a fun, relaxed mealtime atmosphere. Then sit back and watch the healthy eating happen ... and a future of healthy eating habits take shape.