Play & Learn
Baby food 101: What to remember when feeding your child
Eating solids is an important milestone for our babies. The World Health Organization recommends introduction of baby food at 6 months, when an infant’s energy and nutrient requirements exceed what’s provided by breast milk.
If you’re a parent looking forward to the milestone, or checking out ways on how to navigate this new phase, read on for more baby food tips.
Starting it right
Baby food should be given at 6 months, not earlier and not too late, according to WHO.
“If complementary foods are not introduced around the age of 6 months, or if they are given inappropriately, an infant’s growth may falter,” WHO said.
However, for special cases like babies born prematurely or if the infant has underlying health conditions, the age for baby food introduction should be consulted with a health expert.
Complementary baby food, usually pureed, mashed and semi-solid fruits and vegetables, are given to babies at different intervals per day, depending on age. The best baby food is always the healthiest– the Bahay Kubo song is a good guide.
You can make meals for your baby (usually steamed then blended) with the help of baby food makers like and .
There is also a manual baby food maker that you can bring during travels, like the , or .
How frequently should you feed your child?
The number of meal times depends on the child’s age. In a complementary feeding advisory, WHO set out this guideline:
2-3 times daily - 6 to 8 months
3-4 times daily - between 9 to 11 months and 12-24 months
Additional snack 1-2 times daily - 12-24 months
WHO said parents must “gradually increase food consistency and variety as the infant gets older, adapting to the infant’s requirements and abilities.”
By 8 months most infants can also eat “finger foods” (snacks that can be eaten by children alone), added WHO, highlighting adult supervision at all times.
To encourage baby-led eating, you can also check out finger foods like and .
“By 12 months, most children can eat the same types of foods as consumed by the rest of the family, while keeping in mind the need for nutrient-dense foods, including animal-sourced foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products,” WHO added.
WHO also noted that while the child has been introduced to solids, breastfeeding must continue for up to 2 years and beyond.
Whether you follow baby-led weaning which encourages the kid to hold and play with food, or traditional feeding, expect meal times to be messy.
Avoid tumbling bowls by getting . You can also pick to elicit baby food interest from your child.
will also help your baby focus on food, while baby bibs help lessen mess. Get a for that extra cuteness, or the so your baby can enjoy exploring baby food.
Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your baby’s hands before meal times, and of course after each feed.
Healthy baby food and recipes
You can always experiment as you search for the best baby food for your kids. The usual tip is to introduce a single vegetable or fruit and feed it for three days to check for allergens and to help the baby be familiarized with the new flavor. As the child’s age progresses, you can mix and match vegetables for a more complex taste.
The Philippines’ Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) suggests some combos for healthy and tasty baby food such as: Carrot-Anchovies, Yellow Sweet Potato-Spinach and Squash-Banana blends.
FNRI also encourages root crops like energy and fiber rich kamote and potato - mash it and enrich it with milk.
FNRI added that fruits like mango, papaya, banana (especially ripe latundan at first) are healthy options. Mix it with breastmilk, freeze it using a and you have an instant tasty treat for your teething baby.
“Mango and papaya are good sources of vitamin C which your baby needs to keep gums healthy, prevent easy bruising, and help the body fight infection,” FNRI said.
Meanwhile, for great eyesight, healthy skin and hair, good growth, and resistance to infections, your baby must consume yellow vegetables such as carrots and squash.
“Green leafy vegetables like kamote tops, kangkong, petsay, and malunggay are common sources of b-carotene. These foods also contain minerals like iron for healthy blood and calcium for strong bone and teeth, and fiber,” FNRI added.
Ready to eat options
There are many ready to eat in the market as well, like for 6 months and up, , , and .
If you’re too busy, you can make a meal plan for the week ahead. Check out baby food recipes from , and properly store and freeze baby food with and .
Safe eating habits
WHO also laid out these tips when feeding your child:
timely – kids are introduced when the need for energy and nutrients exceeds what can be provided through exclusive breastfeeding;
adequate – offer food that provide sufficient energy, protein and micronutrients to meet a growing child’s nutritional needs;
safe – meaning that they are hygienically stored and prepared, and fed with clean hands using clean utensils and not bottles and teats;
properly fed – meaning that they are given consistent with a child’s signals of appetite and satiety, and that meal frequency and feeding are suitable for age.
The WHO discourages foods that may cause choking such as whole grapes or raw carrots.
Parents must also avoid giving drinks with low nutrient value, like tea, coffee and sugary soft drinks to children. Juice giving in general is limited to encourage consumption of more nutritious food.
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