Feeding your baby healthy food sets the template for lifelong eating habits and affects a baby’s health and relationship with food for the rest of their life. Learn how to feed your baby healthily and set them up for a healthy life!
During babyhood, babies develop their taste for good food, they lay down fat cells, and go through important stages of physical development in a very short space of time. It is vitally important that we feed babies what is good and natural to their metabolisms during this formative period.
When you have a baby, you should start as you mean to go on, in order to set down an early pattern of good food habits for your child. If you want your child to grow up liking good, healthy food, you need to start her off with healthy food. Breastfeeding is unequivocally the best possible start you can give to your baby in terms of her future health and eating habits. It is simply the best, the healthiest baby food and should always be the first option to consider.
If you are pregnant, or are currently a breastfeeding mother, I would highly recommend this specialist breastfeeding site, https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ where you will find a wealth of helpful information and resources for healthy breastfeeding your baby.
Around six months of age, is the recommended time to start introducing solid foods to your baby. You can begin at four months, but it is generally believed that this increases the risk of your child developing food allergies. Waiting that little bit longer gives a baby that little bit of extra protection, as its digestive system has had a little more time to develop.
When the time is right to start your baby on solids, start introducing well-chosen, healthy baby foods, one at a time. Certain foods are not suitable at this stage and should be avoided. See my lists for recommended baby foods and those to avoid.
Healthy Baby food is Simple, Pure and Natural
In general, the food you give to a baby should be as natural and unprocessed as possible. Choosing organic food for your baby is hugely beneficial to a baby’s health. This is because your baby has a less developed blood-barrier system to protect it from food chemicals. And, a baby’s body, being smaller than an adult’s, gets a proportionately higher dose of whatever chemicals are present in food. The so-called ‘safe levels’ of agri-chemicals have been tested as safe for adults, not for babies, or children.
Also, a baby has all of its physical development to go through until it reaches adult maturity. This entire developmental process comes under the influence of whatever chemicals a baby consumes in food.
Chemicals used in food are poisons. Many of them are known cancer-causing compounds. They are permitted in food because they are in very low concentrations. But logic dictates that if you eat a poison, while you may not eat enough to kill yourself, or make yourself sick, it cetainly is not going to be good for you. Over time, continued, low-level exposure to toxic substances will take their toll on your health. The longer you can hold-off exposing your baby to these chemicals, the more beneficial it will be. The less chemicals that are present, the healthier your baby food is going to be.
Babies Prefer Mama’s Cooking Too!
If you are going to use bought jars of food for your baby, do try to buy organic. Look for the best quality, freshest, least processed brands you can buy. You may pay a little extra, but there will be health dividends for the rest of your child’s life. That small extra expense will buy your baby the most healthy of baby food. It is worth it!
But the best possible way to introduce healthy, solid food to your baby is to make it yourself, using fresh, natural fruits and vegetables. In fact, it should not be necessary to buy jars of food for your baby at all, once you understand all the ways you can use normal food, mashed up for your baby. Babies like home-cooking as much as everybody else! They like food to taste fresh and good! Studies show that at only a few weeks of age, unborn babies can recognise taste in the amniotic fluid. They have been nourished by the same food as you, while they were in the womb, they are already familiar with its taste, so why give them something from a factory after they are born?
Obviously, if you are eating frozen pizzas, Chinese takeaways and chicken nuggets all the time, it is going to be difficult to feed your baby well, without resorting to jars of food, and I would not recommend giving takeaways and junk food to babies. But one of the beauties of cooking home-made family food, is that everyone, of all ages, including babies, can eat it.
It is both easy and cheap to feed a baby some of what you are cooking for everybody else. Nearly every meal will contain something you can mash up for a baby. If you start to do this, you may find that your baby will refuse even the best of ready-made, organic baby food, as it just doesn’t taste as good!
Feed babies “Only the Best”
If babies could articulate what they would like to eat, they might quote Oscar Wilde, “I have the simplest of tastes—I want only the best!” And in this case, the simplest, purest, most natural food, is the best for a baby. When you start the habit of feeding a baby home-made food, it becomes easy, a normal part of your cooking routine. When you see how you can often use something you are cooking for the family dinner anyway, you will soon realize it doesn’t have to be a lot of extra work.
And when you get used to ‘cooking for the freezer’, you can do a few batches of baby food each time you cook something suitable. Mash it and pour it into an ice tray and defrost it by the cube, as you need it. Soon, you will always have a cache of quality baby foods in your icebox without even thinking about it!
How you feed a baby is as important as what you feed him, so be conscious that you are laying down the relationship your baby will have with food, for the rest of his life. You want that to be a good, healthy, functional relationship. Not one with baggage and issues!
When to feed your baby?
Feed a baby when he is hungry and don’t force food into his mouth when he has had enough. (Unless, of course, you have advice from a health professional to do otherwise.) When you are spoon-feeding a baby, let him take the food off the spoon, rather than shoving the food into his mouth, as I sometimes see people doing. If it is obvious that a baby doesn’t like the taste of something, don’t try to make him eat it, try something else. Baby food should be as pleasurable for your baby to eat, as you like your food to be.
Bring Your Baby in as Part of the Family!
Include your baby at family meal-times, as much as possible. Even if your baby is not hungry when you are all sitting down to dinner, don’t exclude him from the table. There is a lot more than just eating going on at meal-times and it is wonderful for your baby to be a part of it from a very young age—-to experience the smells of the food, the colours on the plates, the rise and fall of conversation, the faces around the table.
Being part of family meals, from the start, is a beautiful and significant experience for a baby. Sit him on your lap while you eat and feed him some mashed veggies from your own plate. You can’t buy healthy food that is better than that! When he can sit by himself in a high chair, pull it over to the table, so he feels included, part of the family circle.
This is as much a part of a healthy babies experience as the actual food itself! It is a great way to introduce wholesome, home-cooked, food that is healthy for your baby. When it comes to meal-time, don’t send your baby to baby quarantine, let them eat with everybody else!