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Feeding my baby: what should I feed and when?

Many parents, especially first time parents, wonder what to feed their babies during the crucial growth phase of birth to 12 months. We have compiled a guide to the types of food, and quantities, that the average baby needs. Don’t worry too much if your baby eats a little more or less though as every baby is different!
 
During the period of birth to four months old, your baby should be benefiting from milk feeds only as their digestive tract can’t handle anything else.
 
By four to six months, your baby may be showing signs of being ready to try solid foods. These signs include being able to hold their head up, a birth weight that has doubled, the ability to sit up in a high chair, and making chewing motions. Other signs of readiness for food include showing interest in food, the onset of teething, and being able to manipulate food in the mouth, without pushing it out with their tongue. At this age, a specially formulated baby’s rice, oat or barley cereal is the best choice to introduce solids. They won’t affect babies who are gluten intolerant, and you can mix them to a semi liquid consistency with their regular milk. Their regular milk feeds will still supply the majority of his or her daily nutrients. You can also try puréed vegetables and fruits as a great first food. Do this slowly, introducing foods one at a time, with a three-day gap between new food introductions, to make sure your baby is not allergic. Foods you can try include mashed avocado, mashed banana, pureed sweet potatoes or puréed pear and apple.
 
By eight to ten months, your baby should be chewing away nicely, be able to transfer an object from one hand to the other, and have mastered the pincer grasp of thumb and forefinger. At this age, you can keep feeding milk, cereals and purees, but add finger foods, like cooked pasta or chopped bananas. You can also try adding a little protein to your child’s diet, in the form of cooked, mashed beans, peas, or lentils, or cooked and finely chopped meat poultry or fish. Tofu is another good baby food for children this age, as it can be easily mashed. Your child is also ready to try diluted, non-citrus juices at mealtimes.
 
At ten to twelve months, your baby is truly ready to start exploring food! The have mastered chewing and swallowing and no longer push food out with their tongue. You can keep all the earlier elements of their diet, and add a few of the following: cheeses or yogurt, cooked cubed vegetables, or cubes of fruit, egg (well cooked white and yolk). Small pieces of toast or even combination foods, like macaroni and cheese!
 
By twelve months, most children will be eating a wide variety of foods, but you should still exert caution, and avoid too much sugar or salt, which are bad for growing babies.

More questions

Fibre is important in your baby's diet but should only be present in small amounts as it can prevent the absorbtion of important minerals.
Fat is a vital source of energy for your growing baby.
Gluten is contained in foods such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats which are alll good sources of iron and fibre.
Honey should never be given to a baby under 12 months due to the risk of botulism poisoning.
There are lots of wonderful first foods for your baby to try including puréed vegetables, fruit, and baby cereals. 
There are lots of great ways to easily prepare and cook food for your baby.
A good breakfast is vital to ensure your baby is getting the best start to the day. 
In the beginning you should only feed your baby a spoon or two of solid food a day. This will gradually build up over a period of a weeks until they are enjoying three meals a day.
It is essential that you provide your baby with a well balanced and nutritious diet. There is a wonderful variety of foods to choose from.
If you're having problems weaning your baby it may be that they just aren't ready. Take a week or two to resume milk feedings and try again. 

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