First Feedings and Food
About the age of four to six months, your doctor will advise you that you can start feeding your infant solids. The baby will need to sit up with support and can turn his/her head. Other signs your baby may be ready is the baby shows an interest in what others are eating, leans forward to spoon and opens mouth, and others you can find here.
This is a whole new world for your baby. Offer the foods at a time when your baby is alert, content, and hungry. Make the cereal thin (about cream consistency) mixing it with formula or breast milk. If you use water, make sure it is sterile. Offer your baby the cereal on the tip of a spoon. At first the baby may not feed off the spoon. You will need to wait for a few days before you attempt feeding again. If the baby has trouble swallowing the food, the baby is not ready for solids.
Your baby’s first foods will be cereals beginning with rice. Feed your baby the same food for a week before introducing another new food. Look for signs that your baby may be allergic to the food such as rash or diarrhea. The typical pattern for offering foods can be seen here. Follow all your doctors recommendations.
You can heat the baby food to room temperature or slightly warmer. Refrigerated or frozen foods need heated to 165 degrees and then allowed to cool to room temperature or slightly warmer. Use an electric baby food dish or place heat resistant dish in a saucepan with about an inch of water. Heat the pan to simmer-not boiling. Microwaves create hot spots in the food and may burn the baby. If you choose to use the microwave, cover the food, heat only for about 15 seconds, remove, stir and allow to rest for a few minutes. This causes the temperature of food to even out in the dish. Don’t microwave meat. With all methods, stir the food, wait 30 seconds and using your own spoon-not the baby’s- test the temperature of the food.
Food Safety When Feeding Your Baby
Always wash your hands before feeding your baby, after handling raw meat, after changing diapers or touching pets. Inspect the food container that you are using. Discard any leaking or swollen pouches or jars that the safety button has popped. Spoon into the baby dish the food you are going to use. Never double dip by feeding out of a jar than re-using the same jar again. If you feed out of a jar, you need to throw away any food remaining in the jar. The baby spoon is for the baby, do not place it in your mouth. Once the baby food jar is opened it must be used up within three days or within twenty-four hours for meat. Store left over food in the refrigerator. Toss out any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours. Treat the baby’s food dish and spoon as you do the baby’s bottle and sanitize after each use.
You can freeze extra food. Use a clean ice tray and spoon into each cube the amount your baby will eat at a serving which will range between two teaspoons for young babies and three tablespoons for older babies. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and place in freezer. When the food is solid, move the cubes into a food-safe plastic bag for storage. Or you can use a clean cookie sheet and place one to two tablespoons of baby food in separate areas on the tray. Cover and place in freezer. When solid place in a freezer bag and label with date. Use within one month.
You can defrost frozen baby food by putting in refrigerator labeled with date and time, under running water or part of the reheating. Don’t thaw in standing water or on the counter. Heat the baby food following the procedure outlined above. Don’t re-freeze foods and throw away any uneaten food.
For a thorough coverage of baby food safety please read Food Safety for Moms-to-be.
NEVER feed a baby younger than a year honey or corn syrup. Nor offer them herbal tea blends of any kind.
Do not salt, add sugar, seasonings or fat to the baby food. Baby’s taste is different than an adult’s. Keep the baby food plain.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that juice not be given to a baby until the baby can sip it from a cup held by the parent. They discourage placing juice in Sippy cups, bottles or giving babies juice boxes. Give the baby only unsweetened pasteurized juice. If you are using adult juice, dilute the unsweetened, pasteurized juice by half before offering to the baby.
Do not feed your baby foods associated with allergies such as egg whites, peanut butter, cow’s milk, citrus fruits, and shellfish.
Don’t force feed your baby. When the baby indicates they are no longer interested in eating, stop.
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