Otherwise known as baby food, complementary food is what you give your baby in addition to breast milk or formula. You can start feeding your baby complementary food in the form of purees when they are 17 weeks old at the earliest. You can also start later though. Until your child is seven months old, they don't need to be fed much complementary food at all. Also, the age specifications on ready-made baby food are only the earliest possible time from which the respective product can be fed. There is no reason to urge a child to eat from the age mentioned one the product. Basically, milk should still the main food for your child throughout their first year of life. So feel free to give your baby time to get used to eating.
You can usually tell that your baby is ready for complementary foods when they are very interested in what you are eating and when they put things in their own mouth. It is also evident from the fact that the baby can sit upright on your lap for a while with some support. In fact, being able to sit upright is a mandatory requirement for starting complementary feeding. This is because the baby should not be fed in a semi-recumbent position. However, if your baby still spits out a lot when you put something in their mouth, then it is still too early for complementary food. All children have a reflex to spit food out in the first weeks and months of life. Known as the extrusion reflex, it will later diminish and disappear altogether.
Experts suggest purees as your baby’s first small meals, which can consist of different healthy foods. The important thing is that the ingredients are well softened and purees and that you do not add salt, spices and sugar. Three types of pureed mixes are best for babies, according to current knowledge: one mix is based on vegetables, one on fruit, and one on milk. You'll learn how to make them below. Every baby has unique tastes. Some like vegetables, others do not. Let your child try. You will be able to tell which vegetables your child likes best depending on which they willingly eat and which mixtures they don’t. Every two to three days you can introduce a new ingredient. Either you add it to the previous mix or you replace one of the previous ingredients with the new one. After a month you can then introduce the next type of puree. Freshly prepared purees are best. However, there are also ready-made baby foods that are formulated according to today's knowledge. When buying, you should make sure that the respective product is not or only slightly seasoned.
Besides vegetables, milk and fruit, oil, meat and fish are also important foods for your child. Adding rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, or safflower oil will help your baby's body absorb valuable vitamins from the food. In addition, these oils contain important fatty acids that ensure that the nerve connections in your child's brain can form well. However, cold-pressed oils like olive oil are not suitable at this age because they are not pure enough. Meat and egg yolks provide your child with important iron, proteins and B vitamins, among other things. There are healthyin fish, which are also necessary for the development of your child's nerve cells and brain. Over time, your child should eat all the basic foods that the rest of your family eats in baby-friendly preparations.
You make a vegetable puree from 100 grams of vegetables, 50 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 teaspoons of oil. After a few weeks, you can also add 20-30 grams of pureed meat or fish. Many vegetables work well for baby food, for example, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, squash and parsnips. You can use potatoes, rice or yams as side dishes. For dessert with the vegetable puree, you can give your baby a tablespoon or 30 grams of pureed fruit.
A fruit meal is prepared from 100 grams of fruit and 20 grams of cereal flakes. There should also be a little water and a teaspoon of canola oil in the puree. The fruit must always be cooked during the first weeks in which your baby eats complementary foods. The only exception is very ripe bananas. After a few weeks, you can use the fruit raw if it is soft enough or can be pureed finely so that your baby cannot choke on it. This type of puree is not a snack, but rather a full meal.
For a puree with milk you need 200 millilitres of milk, 20 grams of cereal flakes and 30 grams or a tablespoon of pure fruit puree. You can find cereal that you just mix with hot water on the baby shelf. They are pre-cooked and are the easiest for children to digest. You can also use formula instead of water for mixing. It is best to take only cereals that do not contain sugar, added flavours or ready-made milk. Otherwise, the baby will get used to unhealthy food. Sugar also harms babies’ teeth. You can prepare baby food with pasteurized milk from the supermarket for older children who are at least nine or ten months old. You shouldn't use raw milk. It may contain bacteria that are dangerous for the baby.
In the beginning, it is enough to offer your child one to two spoonfuls of baby food. Half of it will probably end up on the baby’s bib at first. That’s fine. They also still get breast milk or formula. After their first attempts at eating, it is best to breastfeed your baby additionally or give them their bottle. They will get used to being fed over time and will also drink less milk. Your child doesn't have to eat the whole portion of baby food you prepare in one meal. The recommended amounts are daily servings. They can be spread out over one or more meals. If your baby won't eat the baby food, they may not be ready for solids. Then just wait another week or two and then try again. Even in their second year of life, your child should still eat more dairy products than other complementary food.
Baby led weaning means your child decides their own timeline for weaning off of breast milk. This form of complementary feeding is becoming increasingly popular. However, it is controversial among experts. With this method, your child learns to eat solid meals, although they continue to be primarily breastfed. This is done very carefully and gradually by offering your baby bite-sized pieces of banana or other soft foods every now and then. They decide for themself how much and what to eat. You only help with the meal, so you do not actually feed the baby. Parents who want to use this method must take time for meals and never leave the baby unattended.
You should offer your baby some water to drink by the time you introduce the third puree type at the latest. Still water from a cup, mug or glass is best. Spill-proof drinking vessels are great to have on the go. But you shouldn't use them all the time. They are not good for babies’ teeth, because these vessels can change how the teeth sit in a baby’s mouth.
Some parents want to feed their child a vegetarian or evendiet. Many experts consider this to be problematic. Indeed, meat, fish and dairy products contain nutrients that are important for babies. Feeding your baby a vegetarian diet is relatively easy because animal products such as cow's milk and eggs are allowed in addition to plant-based foods. However, if you want to feed your child an all-vegan diet, be sure to seek nutritional counseling. In order for your child to get all the necessary nutrients, you must be well acquainted with this type of diet and take great care with it.