Your baby gets older and, therefore, the demand for energy and nutrients increases accordingly. The time has come to introduce complementary foods into the diet of a child. They not only give the baby the necessary components for development, but also help prepare the digestive system for the transition to a full meal. That’s one more step on the way to independence.
Learning to eat solid foods is a new skill for babies. It will be awhile before your baby needs significant calories or nutrients from foods other than your milk, so consider these first “meals” as sensory experiments. Try to keep the “lessons” pleasant and relaxed—for you and your baby.
Allow your baby to explore the taste of new foods without added spices, flavorings, or enhancements (e.g. Salt). Baby food need not be prepared separately—simply remove fully cooked ingredients before seasoning when making soups, stews, and similar dishes. Foods can and should be appropriate to your home and culture.
Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible. This is as true for infants as it is for anyone else. Many commercial baby foods have added sweeteners, spices, thickeners, and even artificial colors. If commercial foods are offered, read ingredient lists carefully. The process of starting complementary foods may take from three to six months. Once your baby is eating a variety of foods without any signs of allergy or distress, there is less concern about mixing foods or introducing something new. As long as your baby is offered nourishing whole foods, his appetite can be the guide as to what he wants to eat and when he wants to eat it.
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