Ask Amelia Kids Tips

Do Babies Really Need Baby Food?

feeding baby solid foods

There are many theories about solid food introduction, and I can’t pretend to know which one is best.  But here is my own belief: my baby wants to eat good, fresh, flavorful food, just like I do.  Babies are not a different species, they’re just smaller versions of adults, so the food we give them doesn’t have to be so different from our own.  Most commercial baby food is plain, bland, and heavily processed, which is not only unappealing (have you ever tried a jar of baby food green beans? Yuck!), but also less nutritious than “adult food.”

So, the approach I’m taking with Lucy is to expose her to a wide variety of foods and flavors.  Sometimes this means feeding her mashed/pureed versions of what my husband and I eat, other times it means giving her pureed mixtures that I make, and occasionally, it means giving her baby food (because like all moms, I sometimes run out of time and groceries!).  In general, I want Lucy to like real food and enjoy eating, but not think of food as too big of a deal, so I’m trying to model that for her in my feeding approach.

There are a few places however, that you need to be careful, even if you have a relaxed view on baby feeding.  Here’s a little more detail…

When Should You Introduce Solids?

After your baby turns 6 months old, but before 9 months old.  Before 6 months, your baby’s nutritional needs are met entirely through breastmilk (or formula).  If you give him solids earlier than 6 months, you’re replacing a nutritionally perfect food with less nutritious foods, no matter what you introduce.  It is good to start introducing your baby to solids before 9 months though, because if you wait longer your baby may be more likely to reject new foods.

What foods should you avoid giving your baby?

1.  Honey.  It’s potentially dangerous for babies under one year.

2.  Cow’s milk.  This really just means that cow’s milk should not be given as a replacement for breastmilk or formula – having some cultured cow’s milk products (like cheese or yogurt) should be fine.

3.  Anything that needs to be chewed.  Babies don’t have teeth, and even when they get a few they’re still learning to use them.  So stick with mashed or pureed foods until you know your baby can chew.  And even after that, cut food into very small pieces so she doesn’t choke.

4.  Some professionals also recommend avoiding the following during at least the first year (longer if you have a family history of food allergies): peanuts and tree nuts, egg whites, tomatoes, pork, chocolate, and seafood.

Beyond this, most experts say you can do whatever you feel most comfortable with when it comes to food introduction.  If you want more info on the matter, Kelly Mom and La Leche League are trustworthy, science-based places to start your research.

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