Since the first time you saw and held your newborn, breast milk has likely been providing your baby with the necessary nutrition. Now that your baby is six months old, it is time to prepare for a new chapter in feeding. And the first step is determining the best first foods for babies.
Babies, at 6 months, still need breast milk as their main source of nutrition. However, at this age, babies need more, aside from breast milk, that can help support their growth and development.
You can introduce solid foods to your baby at six months, but you need to make sure that the baby is ready for this new milestone.
Is my baby ready?
Before starting solids, you need to know the following signs which indicate whether your baby is ready for solid foods or not. It is time for solid foods if your baby:
- has reached 6 months of age
- can sit upright with minimal support and has good neck and head control
- has oozing curiosity on what food is in the plate
- reaching for food when someone else is eating
- opens mouth when offered some food
- has increased appetite; frequent breastfeeding
- puts a hand on their mouths more often
When you see these signs in your baby, then you are all set for solids. You might also want to ask your Pediatrician just to confirm if your baby is ready for the transition or not.
First foods for babies at 6 months
As a parent, you are very keen on looking for the best foods for babies, now that your own is all set for solids.
Babies at this age are recommended to start with puréed or mashed foods, for them to slowly get used to chewing.
Along the way, you can give your baby grated or soft tiny pieces of food to introduce different textures. Giving textured foods will also help your baby to get better with chewing, as well as get used to swallowing tiny bits of food.
Here are the best first foods for babies that you can give your little one:
Foods rich in iron are good for brain development as well as the production of healthy red blood cells.
Iron-rich foods include:
- Meats such as pork, chicken, beef, and lamb
- Egg (avoid feeding your baby raw or undercooked eggs)
- Legumes such as beans and lentils
- Iron-enriched rice cereals
After giving your baby these iron-rich foods one at a time, you can add more healthy options to your baby’s diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are no doubt, one of the best first foods for babies.
Aside from the pleasant taste of fruits and some vegetables, your baby will also enjoy all the other nutritional benefits these foods can give to help them grow strong and healthy.
You can give your baby soft, ripe, fresh, and cooked fruits like:
- Apples and pears (you can boil apples and pears to make them softer for baby)
For vegetables, you can feed your baby some soft-cooked:
- Sweet potatoes
Do not forget to mash or puree these vegetables using a fork or a food processor.
Grains, specifically whole grains are packed with fiber, carbohydrates, and protein that is needed in your baby’s diet.
Iron-rich infant cereal with breast milk or formula is the first grain food babies usually eat.
As you go along, you can add different types of grains to the cereal so your baby can adapt to different textures of food.
Here are some grains your baby can enjoy:
- Cooked rice (try using brown or wild rice)
- Oats (boil in water until soft and mix with breast milk or formula when it’s feeding time)
- Pasta (cook longer, so it’s softer than al-dente; mash it with the sauce)
- Bread and pancakes (try cutting it to smaller-finger sized bits)
Dairy (in small amounts)
Milk products such as cheese and yogurt can be introduced to your baby in small amounts, as long as there is no history of milk allergies in the family.
At 6 months, breastfeeding is still recommended alongside complementary feeding.
In the Philippines, Executive Order No. 51 otherwise known as the “Milk Code” was established to promote breastfeeding. Some of the principles included in the Milk Code are: (1) exclusively breastfeeding are for infants ages 0 to 6 months, (2) there is no substitute or replacement for breast milk, (3) appropriate and complementary feeding is to be given by the age of 6 months in addition to breastfeeding, and (4) breastfeeding is still recommended for children up to two years old or beyond.
When giving these foods to your baby, make sure to give a few sips of water afterward as well. Mixing foods is also a nice way to introduce your baby to other tastes and textures.
With continuous feeding, you will be able to determine how much food your baby needs, as well as when your baby needs them.
When can I feed my baby?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that infants ages 6 to 8 months must receive complementary foods 2 to 3 times a day. Now that you’re transitioning to solid foods, here’s a sample schedule for your baby’s feeding time:
- Breakfast – (7 AM): breast milk or formula, (8 AM): 2 to 4 tablespoons of infant cereal
- Lunch – (10 AM): breast milk or formula, (noon): breast milk or formula + 2 to 3 tablespoons of puréed fruits/vegetables
- Dinner – (2 PM): breast milk or formula, (4 PM) breast milk or formula + 2 to 4 tablespoons of infant cereal
- 2 to 4 times of milk feeding before bedtime until over the night
- You can also give your 6-month-old no more than 3 ounces of cooled, boiled water per day.
Give your baby one solid meal a day if you are just starting with transition and build your way up to 2 or 3 meal times a day. You should follow this step for your baby to adjust from only consuming breast milk to eating solid foods.
What foods and drinks to avoid?
Here are some foods that you must not feed your 6-month-old:
- Honey is not recommended for babies below 12 months, as it can cause infant botulism.
- Unpasteurized milk and cheese are prohibited because these products might contain bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that is very dangerous to babies.
- Raw eggs might also contain Salmonella, a bacteria that causes food poisoning.
- Nuts and other hard foods are choking hazards to babies, as they are still not pros when it comes to chewing their food.
- Any kind of milk aside from breast milk or formula is not suggested for babies’ consumption.
- Fruit juices are also not good for your baby as it contains a lot of sugar that can cause tooth decay. Fresh fruits are the best source of sugar for babies.
Food safety during meal time
Follow these steps to make sure that feeding is safe and enjoyable:
- Strap your baby well in a high-chair or make your baby sit comfortable o your lap.
- Make sure your baby sits upright while eating.
- Use a tiny spoon and give your baby a small portion of food every bite.
- Feed your baby nice and slow. Let your baby take the time to chew and enjoy the food.
- Take away any distractions such as toys when it is meal time.
- Always watch your child when eating to avoid accidents from happening.
- Learn how to do first aid or CPR, so you know what to do in case of emergencies like choking.
Feeding your child with solid foods for the first time is a very exciting moment. Choosing the best foods for babies is quite a task but very enjoyable because you get the chance to pick what’s right for your baby.
Always gravitate towards healthy choices so your baby can grow strong, healthy, and happy. Don’t forget to follow all the safety guidelines for a smooth transition to solid foods.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.