Now that your baby has tried a variety of cereals, what is the next step?
Happy baby eating baby food.
I encourage parents to start with vegetables for several reasons:
Vegetables have fiber and are less likely to cause firm stools.
Vegetables add great variety to the diet. Offering these will help to influence your child’s palate in favor of these.
Vegetables are some of the least likely allergenic foods.
Variety of pureed baby foods and the raw foods they are made from.
Green vegetables - peas, spinach, broccoli, etc. - are great to start with since these are not sweet, like the orange and yellow vegetables. Green veggies also have more fiber, so stools should remain soft and easy to pass. Consider introducing several green vegetables before moving on to other colors. You can offer a new vegetable item daily or every other day while continuing to give those already eaten, and observing closely for reactions.
Babies 6-9 months like to put everything in their mouths, so this is a terrific time for introducing new foods. They are usually very receptive at this age, so offer your baby lots of variety. Remember to continue those foods already tolerated while trying new ones.
Initially, the amount they eat is not concerning since most of their calories will continue to come from breast milk or formula. Simply offering new and varied items is the goal. It is okay to allow them to decide how much to eat.
Once multiple veggies have been given (6-12), fruit can be introduced. You don’t want them to get used to these sweet foods initially and develop a preference for sweet tastes. Cereal can be added directly to any baby food being offered rather than giving the cereal as a separate feeding. Cereal provides a vital iron source for babies. Ensure you mix and match veggies and fruits so you don’t only serve fruit the entire day.
Expect some changes in stool consistency during this transition. The fruits that begin with “p” - peaches, pears, plums, prunes - have more fiber than the others and are helpful, along with green vegetables, in keeping the stools soft.
A plate of peaches and plums sitting on grass. These fruits along with pears and prunes have fiber and can help to keep stools soft.
Stick with cereals, vegetables, and fruit for the first couple of months of new foods before moving on to meats. Meats can be chewier; many infants don’t get teeth until 8-9 months or later.
Yogurt is also a terrific first food. Plain Greek yogurt or labneh, without additives like sugar or fruit, are healthy choices.
Plain Greek yogurt in jars. Yogurt is a wonderful first food and a good way to introduce dairy.
If inclined, you can easily make your baby food without special equipment. Vegetables can be steamed or cooked to a soft consistency and then mashed. A blender or food processor is handy and makes pulverizing most foods easier, but it can also be done by hand. Mashing a soft banana or avocado is simple and makes for an easy-to-swallow consistency. Some foods, which are stringy or textured, may need to be strained with a strainer or cheesecloth.
Should you decide to follow the baby-led weaning method, make sure you understand the guidelines and never leave a baby unattended when eating since food is a common choking hazard. This article from January 2023, https://www.feedfuturehealth.com/blog/search/baby-led%20weaning, gives additional guidelines.
Six months is when some allergenic foods can be introduced in tiny amounts.
Next week, I will tackle this topic.