Top Food Tips for the First 2 Years of Baby’s Diet
As a parent, you naturally want to nourish your baby the best way possible. It’s easy in the early newborn stages where your baby is on a solely liquid diet of breast milk or formula. They eat every few hours without much changing. It’s just bottle or breast day after day. Then the time comes for the big transition…time for pureed foods. How exciting!
Your little one is geared up to receive their first meal. What a great stage in their new life to start off with just the right spoonful of food. But what should that food be? Food safety can be overwhelming for a new parents, but is an important topic to be aware of. Don’t stress though, with these food safety tips for your baby and toddler, your baby will be well on their way to getting the right nourishment they need at each stage of their babyhood. Let’s look into some safety tips and how foods should be introduced to your little one.
Starting Your Baby on Puree Foods
The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of 67,000 pediatricians geared towards the health and safety of children, recommends that you start your baby on pureed foods at six-months-old. You’ll notice that the time is right for your child when they start to show an interest in what you are eating. They may open their little mouths and reach towards your spoon when you are eating. It’s helpful that your baby be able to sit up without help and be able to control their neck movements. Your pediatrician will also be able to evaluate your child’s specific development to let you know if they will be ready for pureed foods.
There are a variety of simple foods that you can start with. Most people choose infant cereal because of its mild taste and completely pureed texture. These are single grain cereals in varieties like rice and oatmeal. They are well tolerated as first food. Then you can move on to multi-grain or barley cereals as well.
After trying the infant cereal route, you can then introduce pureed fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and yogurts one at a time. You can buy these in the jarred baby food aisle at your local grocery store or you can make these pureed foods yourself with a baby food blender or processor.
The reason you want to introduce these foods one at a time is to make sure your baby doesn’t have any kind of allergic reaction to certain foods. Try to wait at least three days between each new food.
Avoiding Food Allergies When Feeding Baby
In the first year, you want to avoid some common allergens. The most common ones include soybeans, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, and wheat. If you don’t have a history of allergies in your family, you may be able to introduce your baby to some of these foods earlier but talk to your pediatrician to find out their recommendations.
Introducing Solid Foods
Babies can start to get teeth as early as six-month-old, but by the time your baby has a few teeth it’s easy to transition to more solid foods. This is commonly begun around the 6-12 months mark. The way you want to do this is with very soft foods that you cut up into small pieces. Ideally the food needs to be able to be dissolved in their mouth without chewing. Baby crackers and cereals like Cheerios are perfect for this as practice. Food pieces need to be small enough in baby’s diet that it can be gummed and swallowed easily with just a couple of teeth. Some perfect foods to try are diced avocados, bananas, soft beans, sweet potatoes, green beans, and butternut squash!
Potential Choking Hazards to Avoid
Something to always keep top of mind are potential choking hazards, like hot dogs or a piece of meat that needs to be chewed. Everything needs to be soft and easy to swallow. Watch the sizes of fruit that you cut up. For example, grapes are a serious choking hazard when left uncut. Make sure you cut up a single grape into four small pieces.
Some important foods to avoid are popcorn, raw vegetables, harder fruits, raisins, and hard candies. Food safety at this age is very important and we always recommend making meal time a fun activity for both parent and babe so that you can easily supervise your little one’s food consumption.
If you feel uneasy about the possibility of your baby choking, you may want to take a baby CPR and choking class taught by a certified instructor in your community. Your local hospital where your baby was born, may be able to guide you in the right direction to find a class to take.
Tips for Toddlers 18 Months to 24 Months
Once your baby hits the age of one, you can start them on whole milk instead of breast milk or formula. By the time your baby is 18 to 24 months, they will be better at self-feeding. Try to keep introducing new foods to them to expand their palettes. Ideally by the time they are two-years-old, they can be eating what you and your family are consuming at each meal, just in smaller portions and cut up to accommodate their chewing needs.
This is typically a good time to transition from using a cup instead of a bottle as it is good for their mouth development.
Above all with toddlers, the best advice we have is to not get frustrated with their eating habits. Keep introducing new foods and letting them try foods that they have rejected again and again. They say it takes a toddler around five times of trying a new food to decide if they like it!
And of course, you know your baby best. These are the tips we’ve gathered through the years based on recommendations form professionals; however, you have that bond with your little one and will be the best one to decide when the right time to transition to new foods is.
How have you been doing with your little one’s food journey? Do you have any tips we didn’t share here? We want to hear from you in the comments below!