Now that your tiny one is 6 months old, solid foods will soon become a staple of their healthy diet.
Most infants will be ready to eat solids between 4 and 6 months as a supplement to breast milk or formula.
Before you panic, we have some sound advice on feeding your babe a healthy diet, coping with picky eating + (most importantly), taking the time to enjoy this exciting + often hilarious time in baby's development.
Whether you choose to introduce fruits, vegetables,or cereal first, keep in mind that baby's first months with solids are as much about exploration as they are about nutrition.
Expose baby to a variety of tastes to promote more varied interests in food later in childhood. It's totally fine if baby opts out of eating some (or all) of the choices presented. Your job is to decide what foods to offer, but baby's job is to decide whether and how much to eat. It is entirely likely that your tiny tot will have a change of heart after repeated exposures to disliked foods, so don't stop offering them just because baby turns that cute little nose up. Heck, my little guy changes his mind about foods on an hourly basis. Trying to predict what your child will eat is an errand best left to the fools.
So, baby hasn't touched a vegetable in days and you are convinced scurvy is inevitable?
Fear not! First things first.
Baby's nutrition should be considered over the course of a week, rather than just one or two days, so try to keep an eye on the big picture.
Second, even if baby does go a week without touching the green stuff, there is more than one way for your tot to consume the fundamental vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy development. It turns out, healthy eating is more than just noshing on raw broccoli and kale smoothies. Some of baby's favorite foods are choc full of fiber, fat, protein, calcium, folate, and vitamins A, C and K—a few nutrients crucial for ensuring baby's health. That's right… fruits can be just as healthy as vegetables! They may have more sugar than veggies, but nothing to worry about compared to sugary snacks and drinks. It's true, fruits may not pack quite the nutritional punch as some veggies, but as the old proverb goes, “A fruit in the mouth is worth two vegetables on the plate."
Still worried your little one is missing out on something important?
First, tell that pesky mommy guilt to hit the road! Second, have a look at our handy checklist for ensuring proper nutrition. (Vegetables only make the list once, so we bet you are doing better than you think!)
1. Offer your child milk and water, avoiding too many sugary drinks and juices that may suppress your child's appetite for more beneficial offerings.
2. Schedule your baby's meals and snacks every two to three hours to stave off hunger (and cranky pants!).
3. When baby is old enough, or if you are giving baby-led weaning a try, give your tiny tot opportunities to try a well-rounded variety of whole grains (Cheerios, pasta), veggies (sweet potato cubes, cooked spinach), fruits (blueberries, banana) and proteins (boneless fish, chicken—or if baby is vegetarian, an assortment of beans). One easy trick is to offer your baby foods that represent the colors of the rainbow. This technique will almost ensure that baby receives a variety of nutrients while enjoying a dazzling display of colors!
4. If baby has been offered two to three options and doesn't seem interested, don't force the issue. Baby may refuse an entire meal and that's okay. End the feeding session without any fuss and pick up where you left off at the next sitting.
5. Try not to eat foods in front of baby that you would not want baby to eat. Yes, we know how hard this one is! But restricting foods from baby while eating them yourself sends mixed signals and may increase baby's preferences for those foods later in childhood. Try to model admirable eating behaviors in front of your child—and if you just can't help it, duck behind the refrigerator door for a nibble of that heavenly chocolate chip cookie. Just kidding. Kind of.
6. When your tot loses interest in eating, end the feeding session posthaste. Otherwise, you may find most of your day spent around the dining table!
Whether you find yourself at the dining table with your very own Cookie Monster or Anthony Bourdain, feeding your infant doesn't have to be all-consuming. Your tot will eat when ready and there's nothing you can do to change that. We wish you success in baby's eating escapades!