Baby food is the semi-solid or soft solid foods which include proper nutrition to the baby through protein, iron, and iodine. Baby foods are useful for babies who are few months old till they are able to consume a normal diet. It is important to focus on baby food and the essential nutrients a baby should have to ensure proper brain development and a strong immune system.

Baby Food: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have

Baby foods are available in many flavors and tastes that can be made at home or can be consumed as such. Proper care is essential while preparing baby food as it should have all nutritional elements for the proper growth of babies. Breastfeeding is most initial and best-known nutrition for babies, but when it comes to baby food, it too must be nutritious. Here we are discussing about baby food and the essential nutrients a baby should have.

Being a new mother is a blessed feeling but the challenges and concern about the health of newly born baby always put their mothers in dilemma. They always hang between the constant questions in their mind such as what, when and what quantity of food should offer to the baby so nothing would upset the small and delicate tummy of the baby.

Here is the guide to recommended baby food that are culinary superheroes loaded with essential nutrients a baby should have.

Baby Foods: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have From Birth to 4 Months

The period from birth to 4 months is the most vulnerable period for both baby and the mother as it is the first time the baby begins to feed. Much development occurs during this period and the baby also needs time to get adjusted with the environment. Up to the age of 4 months, feeding with solids is unsafe because it can cause allergy and other digestive problems in babies. So breast milk is the only best and acceptable nutritious food at this age.

Baby's diet can be increased with time to time as the baby is growing and digestive system is developing.

  • Birth to 1 month Age: Feed 50 to 100ml breastmilk every 2hrs.
  • 1 to 4 months Age: Feed 100-210 ml breastmilk every 2-3hrs.

However, if breastfeeding is a concern, mothers can switch to formula milk as a substitute for breast milk, with medical advice. Formula milk may be fortified with essential nutrients a baby should have and must be taken as advised. Generally, formula milk can be given in the following ways.

  • Birth to 1 month Age: Feed 60-120 ml milk every 2hrs.
  • 1 to 3 month Age: Feed 120-140 ml milk every 2 to 3 hrs.
  • 3 to 4 month Age: Feed 140-210 ml every 3 to 4 hrs.

Baby Foods: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have From Age- 4 to 6 months

As this stage, the baby begins to hold her neck and can sit with the help of back support. Hence, they can easily swallow semisolid or soft pureed food. During this time, then baby's nutritional demands begin to increase, hence breastfeeding and formula milk are not sufficient. Baby food at this stage must focus on introduction of healthy foods that provide essential nutrients a baby should have.

Method: Spoon Feeding

Food to Feed: Breast milk and formula milk is mandatory at this stage.

  • Vegetables: Well-cooked and pureed sweet potatoes, squash and carrots.
  • Fruits: Meshed apples, banana and peaches.
  • Iron-fortified cereal: Start with 1 tablespoon of cereal and mixed with formula or breast milk. Feed this twice a day. Solidity can be thickened by using less liquid.

If the baby shows any type of allergies then discontinue that particular food and seek medical advice. If baby refuses a particular food you are offering then don't force, just try it next day.

Baby Foods: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have From Age- 6 to 8 months

At this stage, the babies are able to take up the soft solid foods easily and shows interest in taking new foods because now they start crawling, can easily hold head up, sit upright on a chair and became double of its birth weight. The mother should initiate to feed the baby with some new food as their digestive system is developing and he/she is busy in exploring the new world and doing more physical activities. So now along with breastmilk more solid foods are needed for a developing baby.

Method: Spoon and Hand Feeding.

Food to Feed: Breast and formula milk is compulsory.

  • Pureed and well cooked Vegetables: 1 to 3 tablespoon vegetables such as potato, squash, beans, carrots and sweet potato in 4 feedings.
  • Pureed and Strained fruits: 1 to 2 or 3 tablespoon fruits such as pear, apple, avocado, banana and peaches.
  • Pureed Tofu or cheese
  • Pulse soup: boil pulses in sufficient water.
  • Pureed legumes: Black beans and lentils.
  • Low-fat milk unsweetened yogurt
  • Iron-fortified cereal: 3 to 9 tablespoon bowls of cereal such as oats and barley in 2 or 3 feedings.

These baby foods can offer the essential nutrients a baby should have at this age.

Baby Foods: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have From Age- 8 to 10 months

At this stage, the baby is more active, engaged and ready to take solids in a better way. Now, babies are able to pick up objects themselves, can sit without any support, exchanges items from one hand to the other, able to put anything in the mouth, baby's jaw starts moving for chewing.

Method: Spoon and Hand Feeding

Food to Feed: Breast milk or formula milk is compulsory.

  • Soft cheese and unsweetened yoghurt: Quantity - 1/4 to 1/3 cup.
  • Well-cooked or steamed vegetables: Beans, broccoli, carrots, peas, squash, cauliflower, onions and potatoes.
  • Fruits: Kiwi, bananas, plum, peaches, grapes, peaches, mango, litchi, date and avocados.
  • Finger foods: O- shaped cereal, a small part of the egg, baked potato or carrot sticks and teething crackers.
  • Food containing proteins: Small pieces of meat, boneless fish, lentils and poultry.
  • New Grains and Millets: Amaranth, pasta with rice or oats, millets, pasta along with rice or oats and sesame.
  • Iron-fortified cereals: One-fourth to one-two cup cereals such as barley, wheat, oat and mixed cereals.

Baby Foods: Essential Nutrients a Baby Should Have From Age- 10 to 12 months

This is the time period when the taste buds of the babies are fully developed and they start loving to try new food. At this stage, they can easily swallow and chew solid foods as they have more teeth now. It would be easier to prepare food for babies as there is no need of mashing and pureeing. At this time, it is easy to understand the baby's taste preferences and the mother can easily know their likes and dislikes. It is important to give healthy foods and develop a taste and liking for nutritious foods.

Essential nutrients that a baby should have at this stage must be incorporated in the baby foods to make them tasty and interesting. Foods of different colors, textures, shapes are loved by babies so try same food in different forms. It is also the time to introduce spices to diet so they become familiar with other new food or taste.

Method: Spoon and Hand Feeding.

Food to Feed: Breast milk and formula milk or PLUS.

  • Soft pasteurized yoghurt and cottage cheese
  • Small cut fruits in cubes or mashed fruits: Melon, grapes, apple, litchi, banana and other soft easily chewable fruits.
  • Completely cooked Vegetables in small bites: Spinach, potato, onion, carrot, squash, tomato and much more.
  • Food rich in protein: Boneless fish, small bits of meat, tofu, egg white, fish and much more.
  • Cereals and Grains: Wheat, pasta, buckwheat, barley and millets.
  • Iron fortified food: Quantity - One-Fourth cup cereals such as oats and mixed cereals.

The health of the baby is a major concern for any parent, hence the nutrition provided to the baby is very important. Nutritious baby food offers all the necessary nutrients that a baby should have, which not only helps in proper growth and development but also boosts their immunity.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 18, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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