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Feeding my baby: what should I feed and when?

Many parents, especially first time ones, 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! Check out www.first1000days.ie for ideas .
 
The Department of Health recommend starting to wean your baby onto solid food at around 6 months – certainly not before 17 weeks (4 months) and not after 26 weeks. 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 is a popular choice to introduce solids. 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 to include mashed avocado, mashed banana, pureed sweet potatoes or puréed pear and apple.As you move through the stages of weaning, 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. Add finger foods, like cooked pasta or chopped bananas or softly cooked carrot batons.. It is also important to add 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 will have mastered chewing and swallowing and no longer push food out with their tongue. By twelve months, most children will be eating a wide variety of foods, but you should still exert caution and do not add sugar or salt to their food . 
 

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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