Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Baby

The Super Baby Food Book contains all the information you'll need to:

* Know when, how, and what to feed your baby and toddler.
* Know how to keep baby food safe.
* Take control of your baby’s nutrition
* Avoid harmful additives and preservatives
* If you would like, make your own baby food
Early days

* Breastfeeding
* Breastfeeding problem solver
* Bottlefeeding
* Mixing breast and bottle

Food worries

* Food intolerance and food allergy
* Fussy eaters
* Vegetarian babies
* Vegan babies
* Special diets

Weaning ways

* When to start on solids
* Weaning chart
* First foods from 6 months
* Feeding from 7 or 8 months
* Feeding from 12 months on
* Baby-led weaning
* Baby-led weaning recipes for 6 months and 8 months
* Gill Rapley's baby-led weaning video
Nutritional help
* Vitamin supplements
* Mineral guide
* Organic baby foods tried and tested
* Organic recipes
* Recipes for baby
More on food
* Organic baby food on test
* Small bites: food info, issues and recipes
* Find a recipe
* Baby-led weaning recipes : Breakfasts| savouries | puds
* Baby to adult: how to make the food transition
* Good eating habits start young, says food writer Fran Warde
* Drink up! Tips and ideas to keep baby hydrated

Finger Foods for baby

By around 7 to 8 months you can introduce finger foods. Your baby may find it easier to pick up food with his fingers than use a spoon at this stage. These finger foods can be made out of anything that’s not too sloppy to cut. Here are some ideas:

* Slices of bread or toast. Press the bread firmly with a rolling pin before toasting or cutting into fingers to make sure that no crumbs or lumps will fall off
* Strips of pitta bread, nan or chapati
* Fingers of pizza
* Cubes of cheese, or a pile of finely grated cheese
* Peas
* Cooked pasta in sizes and shapes your baby can pick up
* Cooked vegetables
* Chunks of dessert apple or finely grated apple
* Slices of carrot, celery, cucumber
* Tiny sandwiches with fruit or savoury filling

Note: you should always stay with your baby when he’s feeding himself in case he chokes. Usually, babies will cough or spit food out if they cannot swallow it. Occasionally you may have to pat him on the back or put your finger in his mouth to remove a piece of food.
Your baby and family meals

At this stage your baby can join in more and more with family meals. Seat him at the table in a highchair, perhaps with a cloth underneath to make clearing up easier.

You might need to give him his main evening meal rather earlier than you have yours - a baby cannot wait until 7 o’clock for his tea, unless he has a substantial snack in the afternoon. And some babies are asleep by 7pm!

Similarly, some older babies need an early lunch, at around 11 or 11.30am, and then have a post-lunch nap. Trying to keep a baby awake to fit in with your meal time is unfair and not very productive. However, even if you are not eating yourself, do sit down with him at the table and chat to him while he is eating.

Many families compromise, and eat together when they can, at the weekends and on holiday. You’ll find it is easiest to be fairly flexible, and to expect your baby’s routine to change from time to time.

What to avoid your baby

* Citrus and berry fruits
* Soft cooked eggs
* Soft ripened cheeses
* Nuts (including peanut butter)
* Salt
* Sugar
* Strong spices

Avoid low-fat or fat-reduced dairy foods. These aren’t harmful to your baby, but they don’t pack in as much suitable nutrition. Babies need calorie-dense foods, and they benefit from the fat-soluble vitamins present in whole yoghurt, full-fat cheeses and other products.

Remember: the advice to choose low-fat foods is directed at adults - not babies and young children.

Choose unsweetened foods as far as you can for your baby, as relying on sugary foods can encourage his natural preference for sweet foods. Too much sugar can damage your baby’s delicate emerging teeth and may be bad for his long-term dental health.

The healthiest drinks for babies are water, milk (formula or breast, see above), or very dilute pure fruit juice (one part juice to five parts water). Offer well-diluted juice with meals as it aids iron absorption and is a valuable source of vitamin C.

Fruit juice needs to be diluted because the acid in the juice can erode the enamel on the teeth. Give juice with, or after, meals when the protective saliva in your baby’s mouth will help restrict decay. Never give juice in a bottle, as the slow sucking will ensure that your baby’s teeth are bathed in sugar for long periods, leading to decay. Babies of five months and over can start learning to use a spouted cup.

Avoid squashes and other drinks with added sugar altogether, as they are particularly bad for your baby’s teeth.
Different textures

By seven months most babies are capable of tolerating lumps and different textures, and it’s a good idea to begin to offer them food that is less smooth. That way your baby gets used to the feel of normal, family food and it helps his tongue and mouth develop. This is also important for later speech development.

Instead of sieving food, simply mash it and gradually reduce the amount of milk or water you add to it, so the puree becomes thicker.

Baby needs

Needs your baby

By 7 or 8 months yor baby is ready to move on to the next stage of weaning, with meals getting a little lumpier and finger foods making an appearance.

Older babies need more iron in their diets as their own stores start to run down after the age of about six months. They are also becoming much more active as they learn to crawl and then walk - and that means more calories are needed for energy and growth.

Your baby also needs a variety of nutrients in his foods, and to become used to a wide range of tastes as he grows. He can now chew, handle different textures and pick up different shapes more skilfully - eating fits in well with his newly acquired skills and experiences.

He also needs to practice his social skills, and joining in meals with other people gives a great opportunity for this. By the end of the first year, your baby will probably be able to enjoy almost all the same foods as you do, perhaps modified a little to make them more suitable for him.
Which milk?

Experts agree that babies aged up to a year should continue to be given breastmilk or formula milk or follow on milk as their main drink, rather than cow’s milk. Some experts feel that babies should be given no cow’s milk at all until they are a year old, because of the risk of allergies, while other experts advise that small amounts of full fat pasteurised cow’s milk can be used to mix with foods from six months onwards.
How much milk?

As your baby’s intake of other foods increases, he’s likely to need less milk. If you are breastfeeding, you can continue for as long as you and your baby want to. Your baby will naturally regulate his own intake.

When you do decide to cut down on breastfeeds, offer a drink in a cup at a time you’d normally expect your baby to want the breast. There is no point in trying to introduce the different sucking action of a bottle to a baby who’s over six months. Even if he is already accustomed to bottles, it’s still a good time to begin using a cup.

If your baby is still very keen on bottle feeds, you may have to take the initiative in dropping some of his formula intake - it’s easy for older bottle fed babies to fill up on milk, which may not leave much room for other foods. Decrease the amount of milk in each bottle so his intake over the day is less, and offer a cup instead of a bottle at some feeds.

By the end of the first year, the recommended amount of milk is 600 ml a day (about a pint) - and that includes milk from other sources such as custards and yogurt. More than this isn’t necessary, and some healthy babies take a lot less just because they don’t like it. A breastfed baby can feed as often as he wants to, but if he is only feeding once or twice, it’s sensible to make sure he has extra milk in a cup or in other foods.


Homemade food is good for baby health

Making your own baby food is easy and delicious. It is healthier and doesn't take much time to prepare. First, start with organic vegetables, if at all possible. Get yourself a steamer and begin cooking.

Clean your vegetables thoroughly. Most baby's love homemade carrots and sweet potatoes the best. You can also use squash, peaches or apples, whatever looks good for the season. All of these can be steamed together to make things quicker. Put some water in the bottom of your pot, put in the steamer and add cut up veggies and fruit. Steam the food until it is soft and let cool.

There is no need to season or add salt to steamed food as fruit and vegetables are naturally seasoned. Pick out any seeds or fibrous strings that could choke your baby.

Separate the steamed food and put each separately in a food processor, adding a little bottled or filtered water when needed to soften food. As your little one grows, you can leave larger bits of food in the mix. But for your baby, keep it smooth and creamy. Rinse the processor after each batch you make.

You can buy little jars or containers to use or even use ice cube trays to store your food. Freeze the steamed food in little portions so you any during feedings. These can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or warmed in hot water. Always mix well and stick your clean finger in the food to look for hot spots. It is not a good idea to microwave the steamed food, as it can overheat and burn your baby.