After four months of breastfeeding or bottle feeding, a baby gradually learns to eat solid food. A fun but exciting chapter for parents. What can and must a baby have?By Mirjam Bedaf
Many parents look forward to the moment when their baby can start eating snacks. “You can start this when your baby is four months old,” says pediatric dietitian Angelique Kaldenbach. “You can start with almost any healthy food. The most common is a few bites of pureed vegetables or fruit. It’s just for practice. From six months, they need the food to grow.”
Most people start with pureed food. There are also parents who deliberately choose the so-called Rapley method. Then you give your child pieces of food that he can put in his mouth himself. “Our advice is that this method is only safe if the child can sit up properly and can swallow and chew well,” says Madelon Hendriks, youth nurse at the health clinic GGD Gelderland-Zuid. “So don’t give the bigger pieces until your baby is ready. You can also start with pureed food first. And then offer vegetables and fruit slowly – from six months – gradually coarser.”
In the period between four and six months, parents can also practice with a piece of light brown bread without a crust – if the practice snack goes well. Later, you can invest it with, for example, vegetable or dairy toppings. “I’d rather not have a slice of cheese or spread,” Hendriks says. “It contains a lot of saturated fat and salt.”
Good alternatives, she says, are cottage cheese or mozzarella. You also prefer not to give them liver pâté or sausage. “Alternatively, you can take vega pâté, but be aware of the amount of salt. Babies’ kidneys can’t process this well yet.”
Around the same time, you can also expand the hot meal with some pasta, potatoes or rice. Kaldenbach: “At six months, the advice is about one and a half tablespoons of vegetables, the same amount of potatoes, rice or pasta plus half a tablespoon of meat, fish or meat substitutes such as eggs or legumes as a protein source.”
“It’s also good to add half a teaspoon of oil or margarine,” says Kaldenbach. “It is often forgotten, but they contain healthy unsaturated fats. From eight months, the advice is three to four tablespoons of vegetables, three tablespoons of carbohydrates, one tablespoon of protein and one teaspoon of fat. If your child eats more or less, it is a good idea to eat more or less. that’s fine too.”
Is it good to offer peanut butter for allergies?
Furthermore, today it is recommended to offer peanuts and eggs to babies before they turn eight months to prevent food allergies. Kaldenbach: “The health center makes parents aware of this. It goes like this: On day one you give half a teaspoon of peanut butter, day two a teaspoon and day three three teaspoons. You can mix the peanut butter with fruit or vegetables, spread it on a sandwich or just off the spoon.”
If all goes well, it is important to continue giving at least three teaspoons weekly. About the same schedule applies to eggs, but with one teaspoon, one tablespoon and two tablespoons respectively. “The advice is to continue giving half an egg weekly thereafter,” says Kaldenbach. “It is especially important for infants with eczema or a predisposition to allergies. In that case, it is advisable to give peanuts and eggs before the age of six months with a more precise schedule. Ask the health clinic about how this can best be done.”
They do not need to get used to sweet tastes. Babies don’t need crackers or juice. Of course you can, but why would you?
Both experts are not fans of sweet drinks and snacks. “Unfortunately, there are more biscuits and boxes of dried fruit for babies on the supermarket shelf,” says Hendriks. “But why would you offer it? At this age they settle for a crust or a breadstick. Sugar is a fattening agent and also bad for the teeth.”
“They don’t have to get used to sweet tastes,” says Kaldenbach. “Babies don’t need lemonade or thick juice. Of course it’s possible, but why would you? It’s better to teach them as early as possible to drink mainly water or tea without sugar or honey.”
Hendriks mentions a piece of soft fruit, some cooked vegetables, corn or buckwheat waffles, a bread stick, a toast with low-salt vegetable spread or a piece of crusty bread with low-salt hummus, peanut butter, nut paste, eggs or mashed avocado as healthy snacks. “Not too many rice cakes. All rice products contain a small amount of arsenic.” Too much of this substance can be harmful to health.
“It’s about guidelines,” says Hendriks. “Look at your own baby. Every child has their own pace. If it’s not a smooth feeding after six months, don’t despair right away. It’s not bad at all. Just keep practicing and keep offering food. “
When is baby ready for more than just milk? You can read that in the article about baby’s first snacks at Ouders van Nu.