Congratulations on taking the decision to prepare your own food for your baby! By doing so, you’re treating him/her to two of life’s greatest gifts — good health and delicious food.
Before you get started, here are some important points to keep in mind…
ONE AT A TIME
Introduce new foods to your baby’s diet one at a time. Allow at least five days between each new food. This will give you time to spot any allergic reactions. Introduce them at breakfast or lunch to reduce the risk of any allergic symptoms developing during the night.
Be sure to only give your baby foods that are appropriate for his/her age.
TAKE IT IN STEPS
Make the progression from thin liquid purées to more solid,
chunkier meals slowly, making sure that your baby is able to cope comfortably with the new texture every step of the way.
KEEP IT WHOLESOME
Add no salt, little or no sugar and little or no fat to your baby’s food. Let’s leave the unwanted additives to the baby food manufacturers. Even if, to you, the food seems to lack something, your baby won’t mind (it’s still much tastier than anything that comes in a jar).
DON’T FORCE YOUR BABY TO EAT IF HE/SHE DOESN’T WANT TO
We all have a tendency to over-react if our little bundle of joy doesn’t want his supper. But, remember, we all have times when we just don’t feel hungry — it’s just that your baby has no way of telling you this. Give him/her the amount he/she wants, no more and no less. Don’t worry, he/she will make up for it next time.
DON’T FORGET THE BASICS
Always test the temperature of the food before you serve it. Keep in mind that your baby’s mouth is more sensitive than yours. Be sure to pay attention to good hygiene practices when preparing your baby’s food.
NEVER BEFORE 4 MONTHS
You may find that your friends and family — with the best
of intentions — will tell you to begin adding cereals to
the bottle when your baby is just a few weeks old. The story goes that this will help him/her sleep better at night.
Please ignore this advice — it is a myth. Your baby’s body isn’t ready to cope with any solid foods yet.
Do NOT give your baby ANY solid foods before he/she reaches four months of age. Most babies begin the transition somewhere between five and seven months (no later than eight months is recommended).
Finally, always keep in mind that every baby is unique. While there are some rules that are true for every child, feeding your baby is largely a process of ‘learning on the job’. After all, it’s your baby who’ll let you know when he/she is ready to try out new foods and it’s your baby who’ll tell you what he/she likes or doesn’t like.
Use good old common sense. Follow the guidelines, but don’t be ruled by them.