The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that babies should begin eating solid foods in addition to formula or breastmilk at the age of 6 months. Rice cereal is the classic choice as the very first food for your baby to receive from a spoon, but how do you choose what foods to feed your baby next? There is a great deal of freedom when it comes to creating your infant’s diet. This can be both exciting and confusing for parents who want to ensure adequate nutrition and growth for their baby. Things to consider when designing your baby’s diet are the ease of digestion of the food, your baby’s nutritional needs, and the proper balance of selections. To make meal-time enjoyable for both you and your baby, consider these 3 areas while meal planning and it will lead to a happy infant who grows well.
Some foods are known to aide a baby’s digestion while others classically cause gas and bloating. The discomfort that accompanies difficult-to-digest foods is easily avoided if you emphasize calmer foods first and allow your baby’s digestive system time to mature more fully. Most babies have an easy time digesting fennel, carrots, pears, and pumpkins, and as such these foods are ideal for introducing to a 6-month-old. In contrast, broccoli, prunes, and green beans tend to cause young babies painful gas and cramping. It is best to wait a few months before adding these foods to your baby’s diet. Digestion is an important factor when building a diet for your baby, but making sure he receives adequate nutrition is critical.
Babies require a nutritional balance between carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. A diet lacking in any one of these 4 main areas can stifle a baby’s development. Within each of these categories exists particularly beneficial foods that are nutritionally dense or antioxidant rich. For example, quinoa and whole grain oats are superior carbohydrates to rice and wheat. Excellent protein sources include salmon and chicken. Avocado and blueberries top the list in the fruit category and spinach and sweet potatoes offer amazing benefits as vegetables. Creating a proper diet for your baby consists of selecting nutritional foods and balancing them.
Meals are digested more easily if certain foods are balanced together. Balancing foods is especially important for younger babies who have less-developed and more sensitive digestive systems. Some foods cause constipation while others supply a laxative effect for your baby, and pairing one of each of these types of foods together results in balanced digestion. As a general rule of thumb, green means “go” and red means “stop”. So, green vegetables promote digestive movement while red and orange vegetables tend to have the opposite effect. The main instigators in the constipating category include rice cereal, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes, while pears, blueberries, spinach, and avocados contribute a laxative effect. Pairing carrots with spinach for example, will balance the opposing effects and result in a well-digested meal for your baby.
Enjoy the freedom that designing a proper diet for baby can bring. Create an easy-to-digest diet that highlights nutritionally dense foods and pairs them properly, and the result will be a happy, comfortable baby!
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