Is your little one ready to enjoy solid food? Store-bought ones may be convenient, but it’s best to introduce your baby to solid food made from fresh ingredients and with love! Read on this guide and learn the right solid foods to give your baby and what you need to do (and avoid) when making homemade baby food.
When to Introduce Your Baby to Solid Food
Our babies get all the nutrients they need from breastmilk and infant formula for the first few months. Their nutrient needs, however, change at 6 months. During this stage, our babies can now try other food flavours and textures! Eating solids can also help them develop a myriad of skills like chewing, swallowing and speaking.
“When is my baby ready to start on solid food” is a frequent question (and a common cause of confusion) of first-time mums. Previous studies show that this may happen between 4 and 6 months. Don’t worry! Our babies will also show these signs to let us know they’re ready for solid baby food:
- They can hold their head up.
- They can sit upright with proper support.
- They put their hand in their mouth more often.
- They start showing interest and reaching for food.
- They open their mouth when you offer them food on a spoon.
Homemade Baby Food Ideas
At 6 months, your baby’s digestive and immune systems are more developed. This development allows him to process new food items. Make sure to add iron-rich food like cereal, legumes, egg, tofu and cooked meat like pork, chicken and beef to his menu. Here are some homemade baby food ideas your little one can initially have until he reaches his first year.
Baby food for 6 months
The focus during this stage should be simple cooking methods and ingredients, so you can easily spot his tolerance to different food items and potential allergens. Start with simple purées using one fruit or vegetable first. Some of the ingredients you can use to make baby food purées are:
- Banana is one of the best foods to feed your baby. It’s rich in fibre and potassium and also tummy-friendly.
- Avocado is a good source of fat for your baby’s brain development.
- Carrot contains minerals, fibre, antioxidants and, of course, vitamin A for good eyesight.
- Pea has high protein and low sodium content. Cook it with less liquid to keep the vitamins and minerals.
- Potato is an excellent source of carbohydrates. It also has potassium and vitamin B6 that your baby needs for cell growth.
Once your baby is used to eating simple purées, you can introduce homemade baby food with more nutrients and new flavours. Excite his tastebuds with blended cooked meats; well-mashed lentils or pulses; and vegetable purées made of corn, spinach and cabbage.
Baby food for 7 to 9 months
When your baby is at 7 months, your goal now shifts to giving him thicker and lumpy purées rich in starch and protein. This change will help him adapt to more food flavours and textures early on. Also, these foods will provide him with more energy and nutrients for muscle development.
Some starchy foods that your 7-month-old baby will love include bread, pasta, couscous, millet, oats and rice. Complement these solid baby foods with high-protein sources like lean red meat, fish, poultry, dairy and well-cooked eggs. You can also replace meat sources with legumes, safe soy products and wheat proteins.
One exciting thing you can try at this stage is to let your baby eat finger foods like banana slices, strawberries, mini meatballs, cheese sticks or cooked green beans and carrots. It can help him develop the control and skill to eat on his own. Time to get messy!
Baby food for 10 to 12 months
During this time, our little ones are more accustomed to homemade baby food. Mums are also able to feed their babies safe foods without worrying about allergies. So, prep chunky mashes and purées and finely minced and softened foods. You can also add more dairy items like yoghurt and cheese to their meals. Gradually feed your baby with complex food combinations like:
- Banana with cooked quinoa, to level up his favourite fruit purée with texture and good protein.
- Carrots and potato with beef, to make delicious baby beef stew mash.
- Chicken and cheese with vegetable broth, to make a creamy sauce you can mix with rice or pasta.
- Berry purée with yoghurt, to make a probiotic-rich breakfast or dessert.
Homemade Baby Food Dos and Don’ts
Making baby food at home is a rewarding experience for us mums, especially when we see our little ones having the time of their lives while eating the food that we prepared for them. It’s nutrient-rich and preservative-free, and it helps us save money, too. Ready to start cooking and mashing? Here are some more things to keep in mind:
- Do ensure you cook and store homemade baby food using clean utensils, equipment and containers.
- Don’t use ingredients like salt, oil, honey, sugar, artificial sweeteners, low-fat food, whole nuts, coffee or tea.
- Do use breast milk or formula, cooking water or water to thin out homemade baby food if needed.
- Don’t grill or fry meat items to avoid nutrient loss and unhealthy carbon or excess oil.
- Do prepare 1 to 2 teaspoons of solids per mealtime then gradually increase it 2 to 3 tablespoons.
- Do keep the mood happy and relaxed when feeding solids to your baby for the first time.
- Do feed your baby with breastmilk or formula first before solid baby food.
- Do try trigger foods, like fish and shellfish, nut butter, egg, soy products and cow’s milk one at a time when testing for allergic reactions.
- Do store pre-cooked baby food in small portions in the fridge for a day or in the freezer up to a month.
- Do thaw out frozen baby food in the fridge overnight.
- Don’t refreeze thawed out baby food or mix leftover food with another meal.
For more information on homemade baby food preparation, check out this helpful guide from Raising Children Network Australia. And if you need help caring for your newborn, this article offers tips to make you one relaxed and confident first-time mum!