During their first year of life, babies grow pretty quickly, and every child is different. As a mom, keeping your baby healthy is your number one priority. How much your infant eats, when they start to eat it, and what they eat are all important concerns that require a precarious balance. By taking the proper steps now, you’ll ensure that your baby is able to eat a larger variety of foods as they cross the one-year threshold. Here are five health food tips for moms with babies:
Start With Your Own Diet
All good infant nutrition begins with pregnancy and continues as you breast feed. Changing your own diet is crucial for the long-term health of your baby. For starters, babies will be more accepting of foods they’ve indirectly consuming through breast milk. Your baby needs proper nutrients from your body, and eating healthy will also keep you energized as a new mom. Salmon, legumes, leafy greens, and plenty of water are just a few staples you should incorporate in your meal plan.
Choose the Right Formula
Although breastfeeding is most often the best choice for newborn babies, this isn’t always feasible. If you opt for baby formula, it’s important that you do a little research. This isn’t an area where you want to bargain: the majority of doctors recommend brand names for formula, as generic brands don’t put enough time and research into their mixtures.
Two of the most popular options are Similac and PediaSure. You may have to switch to a soy-based formula if you discover your baby has a milk allergy. “Always talk to your pediatrician and bring in your baby for a checkup before you change their formula or eating habits—especially when making major switches, such as from regular to soy milk,” says Families First Pediatrics.
Know When to Start Solids
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a parent is knowing when to start feeding your baby solid foods. As your infant grows older and their immune and digestive systems mature, they’ll require more from their diet. Typically, this occurs around six months of age, but some babies take a little longer, while others can start eating solid foods as early as four months.
Pay attention to signs that your baby is ready. Leaning forward when food is present, supporting their own heads, and opening their mouths when food is offered are all indicators that it’s time to incorporate solids in their diet. Offer your first bites of solid food in small amounts, and be sure to take this step when your baby is calm and relaxed—and not too hungry. Infant cereal is the most common first step. If they handle this well, move forward with fruits and veggies.
Continue Milk Feeding Until Year One
Just because your infant is adamantly eating solid foods doesn’t mean they’re ready to be weaned off of milk. Milk should be your baby’s main source of food until they’re one year old. At this point, they may typically begin drinking regular cow’s milk and consuming a regular diet of solid foods.
You can make this transition more seamless by starting off with a mixture of regular milk and formula or breast milk. Additionally, their food-drink schedule should be well-balanced. Too much regular milk can fill them up quickly, and they won’t be enthusiastic about eating their solids. And lastly, in the absence of any allergies, use whole milk instead of low fat and skim; this is necessary for proper brain development.
Buy the Right Baby Food
As with any food you purchase from the grocery store, there are good and bad options for baby food on your local shelves. Not all options are equal, and some are much healthier than others. Looking out for certain ingredients can help you make better-informed decisions. For example, iron helps brain and body development among infants, and cereals are a great source of this.
Always take a look at the ingredients list for artificial additives. For example, jarred veggies should only contain vegetables and water. You should also avoid flours and starches, which can upset infant stomachs. Lastly, avoid juice before your baby’s first birthday. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early juice consumption can increase chances of tooth decay and result in poor nutrition.