Foods to feed to a 6-month-old baby
Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, you need to introduce solid foods to their diet apart from breast milk or infant formula milk. These foods should complement but not replace breast milk or infant formula milk. Therefore, they are called complementary foods.
The growing baby needs more nourishment than what can be provided by breast milk or formula milk alone. The complementary foods provide for the additional nutritional needs of the infant. Use feeding time as an opportunity to play and bond with the baby.
Complementary foods also help the child develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. The baby explores new tastes and food textures through complementary foods. Before introducing solid foods to your baby, make sure that the baby
- can sit with little or no support,
- has developed good head control, and
- opens his mouth and leans forward when food is offered.
Various finger foods can be given through complementary feeding. One such popular category is finger foods, which are small pieces of food that a baby can easily pick up and eat. Finger foods have several advantages:
- Helps the baby try different food textures.
- Encourages self-feeding.
- Helps improve motor skills and improve coordination.
You will know that your baby is ready for finger foods when they start picking up things and putting them in the mouth. The skill for picking small objects between the thumb and fingers is called pincer grasp. It generally develops between 8-9 months of age.
Babies around 6 months, however, are more likely to use the whole hand for picking things up. So, thin and long pieces may be picked up more conveniently by a 6-month-old baby. Before giving any type of finger food to your baby, make sure that the food
- melts in the mouth,
- is soft,
- is cooked enough so that it is mushy and easily swallowed,
- is gummy, and
- the portion is small enough for the baby to eat it easily.
Some of the finger foods you can safely give your baby include the following:
- Light and flaky, melt-in-the-mouth cereals, crackers, and puffs
- Small pieces of fresh cottage cheese, soft tofu, and shredded cheese
- Well-cooked vegetables and fruits that are easily swallowed
- Non-sugary canned vegetables and fruits
- Pieces of mangoes, watermelon, and bananas
- Well-cooked pasta
- Small pieces of chicken or salmon
- Small wedges of pear, strawberry, and peaches
- Boiled eggs cut into small pieces
Follow these tips to avoid the risk of choking:
- Do not leave the baby alone during feeding time.
- Always let your baby eat in an upright position.
- Avoid foods that can cause choking, such as
- Dried fruits, including raisins
- Nuts and seeds
- Pieces of raw vegetables or hard fruits
- Whole grapes, berries, cherry or grape tomatoes
- Whole sausages or hot dogs
- Big chunks of meat or cheese
- Hard candies, chewing gums, gummies, and jelly beans
- Big scoops of nut or seed butter (you may use a thin layer though)
- Untoasted bread, particularly white bread that tends to clump together
- Corn chips or popcorns
Your baby needs nourishment and not empty calories. Avoid feeding junk or fried and sugary foods to your baby.
You will need lots of patience to feed your baby. Babies take time to adapt to new tastes and textures. Stay calm and do not forcefully feed your baby. Do not withhold food if your baby didn't like it initially.
There will be several attempts until your baby starts liking a particular food. If you have any concerns about your baby's diet, do not hesitate to seek the doctor's advice.
Also, a new food may cause changes in the baby's bowel habits. Do not panic. Take it one day at a time and have a wonderful time bonding with your little one over food.
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United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods." <https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html>.
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