While the best food to feed your baby is mother’s milk, there is no doubt that eventually he or she will need to start eating other foods.
The first other food parents and caregivers need to provide babies will probably be baby formula. This can be a substitute for mother’s milk when mothers are not breast feeding or for when it is inconvenient to do so.
Once your baby stops displaying her tongue-thrust reflex that she uses to nurse, has doubled in weight, and can hold her head up straight, she should be ready to start trying pureed real foods. Another good sign that she is ready to try other foods is when nursing no longer fully satisfies her. All of these signs should take place when she is from four to six months old.
Now, of course, your five month old is not going to start out with steak and salad. No, he needs to go soft and slow. Great starter foods that also happen to be very healthy are mashed up avocados and bananas. Two other good starter foods are rice porridge with over-cooked grains of rice and oatmeal. Use small, rubber-tipped baby-feeding spoons to feed your baby. When the time comes to feed heated food, get the heat-activated spoons that will change color to alert you when the food is too hot.
At this stage you should talk to your baby’s doctor about food allergies. Generally speaking, you do not want to give your baby eggs, honey, or nuts until you know it is safe to do so.
As you are making the transition from breast milk to real food, make sure your baby has access to both. Although you should not force the issue, most pediatricians and nutritionists agree that you need to at least start this process by the time your infant is six months old. Waiting longer than this can lead to her rejecting solid foods later on.
Once your baby is readily accepting banana, avocado, rice, and oatmeal, start experimenting with other pureed vegetables and fruits. Since babies (and adults) prefer sweet foods, they tend to reject vegetables in favor of fruits. You can fight this trend by mixing vegetables with fruits or simply only giving your baby vegetables until she starts accepting them.
Parents and caregivers need to understand that babies will reject foods. The key is not getting frustrated and then trying again later. Being consistent and persistent is the key to getting your baby to eat right. As your baby matures, she will start eating more and more solid foods. As this happens and her body strengthens so that she can sit upright, you will need to get a highchair and unbreakable baby bowls and plates.
When your baby is sitting up, you can stop pureeing food items and simply mash them instead. Since this will be a new texture for most food items, there is a good chance your baby will reject some of them. But just keep at it, and he will soon be accepting most of them.