Baby Food Stages
It is time to start giving your baby more than just breast milk or formula. It is time to introduce him to the wonders of REAL food, stuff he has to “chew” on and actually swallow. When you go to the baby section of your local store though you are faced with rows and rows of baby food, in all different flavors, sizes, and numbers. How do you know which food to choose and where to start?
When you first give baby food to your infant you will start with the stage one foods, normally this will start with cereal. Baby food companies make cereal that comes in thin flakes, that expands slightly when formula or breast milk is mixed with it; much like instant potato’s that you can buy in the grocery store. When you first start on cereal you will want to use a very small amount of flakes and a lot of liquid making it only slightly thicker than the breast milk is by itself. As your baby gets used to the swallowing of this thicker food, you will gradually add more cereal. Most pediatricians suggest that you start with rice cereal, but if you are unsure, be sure to ask at your baby’s next well-check.
After your baby masters the stage one cereals you will move onto the stage one packaged baby food. This baby food is finely pureed, chunkless food made from fruits and vegetables that help introduce your baby to these healthy lifestyle choices. While finely pureed, it is still much thicker than the breast milk or formula that you are giving your baby. Most of the time it is recommended that you start with the vegetables and give each vegetable for one for a week, before introducing a new vegetable to your baby. This is to help determine if your baby is allergic to any of the food. Also, vegetables are less sweet than fruit and will often help you avoid a situation where you baby only wants the sweeter foods.
Stage two baby foods are thicker, less pureed versions of the stage one foods. They contain a little more texture to help the baby get used to lumps in their mouth. They also expand on the fruits and vegetables by mixing 2 or 3 together in a jar. At this stage some companies that make baby food may begin introducing more variety to include meats and pureed noodles.
By stage three your baby should be a pro at swallowing pureed food. Stage three baby foods are much chunkier than the earlier stages and often include 3 or more items mixed in one jar. For dinners they will normally include a meat and/or pasta dish with a vegetable. There will be your fruits and vegetables, and also a wide variety of “desserts” for your baby.
After the Stages
After the numbered stages of baby food your baby is normally ready to be introduced to table food. They should be able to eat small pieces of cut up meats, veggies and pasta, and may even be able to feed themselves. There are still options that give baby variety however, that you don’t have to cook. Gerber makes food called Gerber Graduates that will be meals of non-pureed, single serving, baby sized portions that can be taken with you and eaten straight out of the package or heated up for your baby. These choices for parents are great for convenience purposes or on the go.
In addition to the baby food on the market, there are several different versions of baby cookies and biscuits’ designed to help your baby learn how to hold food and chew it. These are called finger foods, and are generally dissolvable and easy to hold. When babies get the pincher grasp down and are able to chew on food a little bit more, a popular choice for a take along snack are original, plain cheerios. They can easily go in a bowl or baggie and be thrown in the diaper bag to be taken with you to friends, relatives, shopping, or out to dinner. Once your baby graduates from a diet strictly of breast milk and formula the choices for nutrition are huge and never-ending. Be sure to keep the options open and choices interesting as your baby learns more about the world around him.
Do you know your baby's birth stone? Birth Flower? How about when you'll be handing over the car keys? Check out our popular Fun Birthday Facts Calculator to discover fun trivia about your baby's birth or due date!