Once your baby has enjoyed a few single foods, you can start mixing them together so she gets to experience different flavors. Mixing iron rich foods (cereals or spinach, as examples) with a food rich in Vitamin C (oranges or lemon) is a great combination. The Vitamin C increases your baby’s absorption of the iron, and both are needed to build new tissues.
“Dr. Linda, what should I do if my baby doesn’t like a food the first time she tries it?”
Your baby making a funny face when she is introduced to a new food is not considered a sign of dislike or of a food reaction.
Your baby is born preferring sweet tastes and disliking bitter or sour foods. She can’t even taste salty until she is 4 months old.
Why is this?
One theory is that sweet foods (breastmilk) are high in energy and so babies prefer them. Another theory is that foods which are toxic to humans are generally bitter or sour, so we learned, as a species, to avoid them. Unfortunately, many of the foods that are very good for us are considered ‘bitter’ such as broccoli, spinach, kale and green leafy vegetables.
So, if your baby makes a funny face but is eating the food please keep giving it to her, you are not hurting her.
If, on the other hand, she refuses to take it by closing her mouth or by pushing it away, offer it another few times during that meal. If she continues to refuse it, stop it for now, and offer her another food you know she likes or just go to milk to finish that feeding.
Wait a few days and try that food again. She may like it this time, but if she doesn’t, don’t give up! Picky eaters are made by accident. Parents who don’t know any better, take one or two rejections of a food as final, so they stop offering their babies that food. You must try offering any new food up to 15 separate times before you can know for sure that she is not going to take it. Even then, wait a few weeks and offer it again. Tastes develop and change, you never know.
Remember. Linda’s Dr. Linda’s first RULE for baby diets: there are no hard and fast rules!
Guidelines on Texture
4-6 Months Old:
When your baby is 4-6 months old, give her smooth, runny purees. Increase the thickness every 1-2 weeks or as you baby tolerates it.
To make foods thinner, use clean filtered water, breastmilk, or formula to thin the consistency.
Around 6-8 Months Old:
Your baby can advance to thicker, lumpy foods when she can:
- Sit up alone
- Reach for food
- Handle smooth pureed foods well
Around 8-10 Months Old:
Your baby will be ready for finger foods when:
- She handles thicker, lumpier foods well
- She chews her food and then swallows it
- Sits up by herself.
- Is putting food into her mouth on her own.
- Examples of Finger Foods:
- Soft, small pieces of fruit
- Small soft pieces of vegetables
- Small pieces of cheese
- Small soft pieces of tender meats
- Small soft pieces of cooked pasta
Around 9-12 Months Old:
You baby can advance to table foods once your baby can:
- Feed herself efficiently
- Drink from a sippy cup on her own.
FOODS TO AVOID Until 3 Years of Age
The swallowing mechanism is incredibly complex. It requires a combination of combination of brain, nerve, and muscle development. In fact, the ability to swallow safely does not fully develop until your child is at least 3 years old. The risk of choking depends not just on the size and shape of certain foods that can get stuck in the airway like peanuts and hotdogs, but also on the consistency of the foods. Thick nut butters can be a choking risk for young babies, and hard consistency is a risk for older toddlers and young children.
For any child less than 3 years old, these foods present a choking hazard:
- Whole nuts, especially peanuts. You may try nut butters with young babies (see blog on food allergies) as long as they are not too thick. Start with a very small amount and carefully increase if your baby does well with it and does not have a reaction to it.
- Popcorn – the kernels are a particular hazard
- Hard candies
- Raw carrots
- Hot dogs
If your baby is choking, having difficulty breathing or turning blue call 911 immediately.
In resources you will find links to 2 good videos on handling choking in your baby should it happen. Make sure to watch them. It is also a great confidence booster for most parents to get training in infant CPR. The Red Cross offers good classes.
“Dr. Linda, can I make my own baby food?”
Yes, you can make your own baby food, go to Homemade Baby Food