Author’s Note: Feeding a baby can get confusing for new moms, this was my guide in feeding Evan although as per the advice of Evan’s pediatrician I delayed giving him solid foods until he was 6 months old, although starting rice cereal had her go-signal at 4 months. After having read Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense Of Food” it made me thankful that I partially breastfed Evan and gave him homemade baby food too.
If you think feeding a newborn is demanding, wait till your baby starts his or her solids. It gets kind of tricky. What food should your baby eat? How much milk should your baby drink? Maybe this guideline by Sara Dumond M.D.’s article “How Much Should Baby Eat?” in American Baby Magazine (2006) will help you as it helped me:
Just breastmilk or formula, up to 16-28 oz. milk during 1st month and up to 24-40 ounces a day by their 4th month bday.
Baby’s first solid food is introduced at 4 months. Mix 2-3 tablespoons rice cereal until soupy oatmeal consistency (melted ice cream is a better description for me), do this 2 times a day.
Nurse after solids. 5-6 servings of breastmilk a day (15-20 minutes per feeding) excluding milk added to cereal. 24-40 ounces of formula.
Strained fruits and veggies are introduced at 6 months. 2-3 servings (around 2-4 tablespoons) a day.
Baby food gets lumpier texture. Add 2-4 tablespoons of meat 1-2 servings a day.
Breastfeed 3-5 times a day. Formula is lessened at 24-36 oz. per day. Sippy cup with 2-3 oz. of water.
Finely chopped, diced, mashed table foods with the following servings:
2 serving of fruit (3-4 tbsps)
2-3 grains (cereal, crackers, toast)
3-4 servings of 6-8oz milk
2-3 servings of fruit (1/4 cup per serving)
2-3 servings of veggies
2 servings of meat (1/4 cup or 1 oz)
4-6 servings of grains (1 serving is 1/4 cup cereal,
1/4 slice bread, 1/4 cup pasta, 2-3 crackers)
16-20 oz of whole milk a day.
The eating structure is now the same as the adult:
breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon meal and evening. The child now eats and not drink his meals through the day.
During the early part of feeding solids remember to wait 2-3 days between every new food introduced to check for allergies. Our nurse told me that a food allergy rash is usually found all over the body and not just in one or two spots. Watch out for diarrhea and vomiting, too. A good advice from my sister was to feed new food during breakfast and/or lunch so that the doctor’s clinic will still be open, just in case.
Introducing fingerfoods like diced soft fruits, (bananas, ripe pears, grapes,), veggies, bread, pancakes, biscuits is recommended at around 6 months and up. Don’t let fear of your baby choking stop you from letting your baby experiment and explore with fingerfoods. According to the book by Penelope Leach in “Your Baby And Child” (1997):
“Although choking on small objects, especially round ones like buttons, marbles, or (poisonous) watch batteries, is more of a hazard than most people think, choking on food is generally less of a hazard. This is because pieces of the kinds of food given to babies seldom seal off a baby’s airway dangerously. Don’t let the prospect of your baby choking prevent you from offering him or her finger foods”.
In fact the longer we wait in feeding the baby food that he or she can chew on, the harder it will be for your baby to adjust to this new form of eating. From the same book:
“Babies start chewing with their gums long before they acquire teeth at the back of their mouth to help them…Make sure your baby also gets food such as peeled pieces of apple or scrubbed raw carrot to chew well before 6 months or he may become so used to semiliquid foods that when he does have chewing teeth at around a year, he won’t use them because really solid food revolts him and makes him gag.”
My favorite addition at 6 months was yogurt and cottage cheese, which later on became helpful in getting Evan to eat when he is picky. Since he has learned to love eating yogurt and cottage cheese, I just mix his regular food in it. At 7 months the more nutritious additions were hard boiled egg yolks (start with half) and avocado. Egg whites were given as he got older. He had his shredded fish at 8 months.
At this age, as recommended, I started to let Evan hold a spoon as I feed him. Once he started grabbing for mine, we would alternate between 3 spoons, one for me, one for him and one to exchange whichever spoons he drops. During warm weather it was convenient to strip Evan off his shirt, feed him without bibs and barechested. It made cleaning up so much easier.
What I found out about with my experience with Evan that if he refuses some food it is not usually because of the taste but more of the texture. For some days he likes his cottage cheese smooth so the food mill gets used once in a while. Or if the meat is too hard for him, so I would just mash it some more. Then there is always the reliable yogurt to mix it in with. Or ketchup.
To save time I usually make baby food using an electric food mill in large quantities and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once frozen they’re transfered to labeled and dated ziploc bags. Frozen baby food is good for 3 months. Do not refreeze once thawed and is only good for one day. One ice cube is equal to one serving.
At the age of 12-15 months if the baby is self-feeding don’t be too distressed if there seems to be lot of food accidentally thrown on the floor. Usually when the pieces are gathered up I would be reassured that Evan has eaten most of his food and food on the floor just appears more than it actually is. Around this stage because their wrists are now more flexible they can actually get the spoon into their mouths.
Try to time your child’s meals when your child is hungry enough to eat anything that’s placed in front of him or her. I usually take advantage of this hunger by serving Evan the food he likes the least, e.g. potatoes and meat, and when he’s more than halfway done with them I serve the food that he loves, e.g., carrots, fruits, cheese, etc. Just be careful not to get your child too hungry that he or she goes in a temper tantrum or late in the day that your child is too sleepy to eat. Most of all avoid giving your child treats in lieu of the real meal just to fill the stomach. Doing this the child will never get to appreciate the more nutritious food since your child’s appetite has been satisfied with junk food.
Another tip I stumbled upon for babies who wake up at night hungry is from the book “The Happiest Toddler On The Block” by Harvey Karp (2005). He recommends feeding the child food rich in calories during dinner like mashed avocado mixed with olive oil. A mom told him that egg worked for her child.
When our toddlers doesn’t seem to be eating enough, there might be no need to pull our hairs out. According to the book The Toddler Owner’s Manual by Brett R. Kuhn, Ph.D., and Joe Bogenicht, D.A.D (2005):
“Because her physical growth has slowed down, a 2 year old toddler may actually eat less than a 9 month old…In fact, a 2 year old only needs 8 to 9 bites of food per meal…As a general rule, a toddler only needs to consume between 900 and 1,200 calories each day…For each meal, toddlers should have 1 tablespoon of food per year of age from several food groups. For example a 3 year old should consume 3 tbsp of food from each of 2-3 food groups during each meal.”
Feeding the baby is a lot of work indeed but isn’t looking at mouths wide open waiting for a bite the most rewarding sight ever? That and the growth chart of course. So bring out those rubber coated spoons, shatterproof bowls, bibs, high chair, rags (I mean LOTS of rags) and happy feeding!
First posted 11/07/07