Listen To What Pediatricians Say: When To Start Stage 2 Baby Food?
One of the many questions a parent has in the first year of a baby’s life is, “When should I transition from one stage to another?” How old your baby should be when they start crawling, walking, holding a bottle, and start eating different foods is all an important and exciting part of your baby’s first year of life.
Of the many transitions, when to start stage 2 baby food is a big transition to prepare for because if you start too soon, your baby may have trouble feeding because they are not developmentally ready with the proper motor skills to eat foods at this stage. It is important to know when exactly to start this phase in your baby’s life, but it is not as simple to gain the exact time because though there are standards, every baby is different and their differences are what makes the transition great for some babies and not so good for others.
What Do Pediatricians Say?
It is always best to speak with your pediatrician prior to transitioning to any anticipated stage in your baby's life. Your pediatrician will be your best source for understanding your baby's ongoing development.
Pediatricians look at different developmental and motor skills growth to determine if your baby is at the stage of transitioning into solid foods. Here are the criteria they look at to determine if your baby is ready for the exciting stage of exploring new foods:
- Your baby can hold its head for a good length of time
- Your baby can sit in a high chair with barely any support
- Your baby appears to be more hungry after 32 oz. of formula or 8 to 10 breastfeeding a day
- Your baby opens its mouth on cue during spoon feeding
- Your baby begins to show interest in the types of foods you are eating
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have developed these guidelines to help parents pinpoint the right time to transition their baby.
It should be noted that they also feel that a baby should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life; however, if you are not breastfeeding your baby exclusively, your baby may be ready for solids around the age of four to six months, which is around the time they lose their extrusion reflex, which is the reflex that gives your baby the ability to push food out of their mouth with their tongue.
How Do I Transition My Baby Into Stage 2 Baby Food?
Your baby's first food transition is going from only receiving breast milk or formula to also including stage one food, otherwise known as, baby rice or single grain cereal. By this time, your baby has had enough practice with eating with a spoon and swallowing.
Even though we traditionally feed babies cereal first, there is no medical proof that we must start with cereal in order for our babies to receive all the nutrients they need. It is not the order in which you introduce different foods that are important; it's the manner in which the foods are introduced that matters most.
You have a few good options to choose from as your baby's stage 2 transition foods. Pediatricians usually say to start with vegetables before fruit because there is always the concern that your baby will not want to eat vegetables if they are introduced to the sweet taste of fruit first, however, there is no medical evidence of this being true.
Babies are born with a natural taste for sweet flavors. This makes the order in which you feed babies irrelevant.
Feed Your Baby With Caution
It is important to take your time when introducing different foods to your baby. Remember your baby's digestive system is still developing and it will react to each food differently.
The best way to get your baby started on solid foods is to introduce them to one food at a time. Feeding them this way, for a couple of days, will give you the opportunity to flush out any food allergies your baby may have.
Pay attention to what your baby's body does after every food you introduce. If you notice a change in their stool, sudden bouts of vomiting, or they develop a rash, stop feeding them that particular food and speak with your pediatrician immediately.
What Foods Should I Feed My Baby?
Your baby needs to have a well-balanced diet just like you do. As you continue to introduce them to new foods, they should eventually have a meal filled with all the necessary nutrients they need to continue to develop healthy and strong.
Your goal is to feed your baby the following foods in any variety of ways daily:
- Milk (Breast or formula)
Please take note: There was once a time when it was thought that eggs and fish were harmful to babies due to potential allergies, however, they are now thought to be an asset to a baby's development if introduced in stage 2.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Entering the world of food with your baby is a great experience. Nothing is more enjoyable than watching your little one explore the taste of different foods as they grow in their first year.
Unfortunately, there are a few foods you should absolutely avoid giving to your baby in their first year of life. The foods to avoid are:
- Peanut butter
- Cow's Milk
- Crunchy Raw Vegetables
- Whole Grapes
- Hot Dogs
Each one of these foods is a choking hazard for your baby, except for honey, which can be a toxin in your baby's body due to the various bacteria spores found in it. You also want to stay away from sticky foods because they are hard for babies to swallow.
Some parents would rather make their baby's food at home rather than purchase store bought baby food. Homemade food will always be a better choice because you know what is in it; however, there are a few foods you should avoid feeding your baby if you choose to make your baby's food homemade. Do not prepare the following foods for your baby in their first year:
- Green beans
These foods contain nitrates. If you would like to feed these foods to your baby, it would be best to feed them the store bought baby food version instead.
Homemade Stage 2 Preparation
At this stage of the game, your baby is beginning to develop the chewing muscles. You must prepare your baby's food with the knowledge that they cannot chew big chunky bites just yet.
When preparing your baby's new foods, stay away from adding salt. Depending on whom you ask, adding spices is okay in moderation.
The best way to accommodate your baby's ability to strengthen your baby's chewing muscle is to cook each food to a soft texture. You can accomplish this by boiling it, using a food processor, mashing it with a fork, pureeing it, or chopping it up into manageable pieces.
Making sure each food item is chewable will help to prevent choking hazards for your baby.
Foods like meat should be pureed or chopped after being cooked. Fruits, vegetables, and pasta can be cooked to a soft texture and mashed, especially fruits that are typically hard.
The best thing about preparing your baby's stage 2 food is you get to control what is in it. There are no concerns of finding any additives, chemicals, or extreme amounts of salt and sugar in your baby's food when you prepare it yourself.
Introducing your baby to different foods can be fun and exciting. This is another adventure in discovery for the both of you.
The best way to determine if your baby is ready to move up to stage 2 foods is to speak to your pediatrician and follow your baby's cues. Is your baby able to sit up on their own and hold up their head for a lengthy amount of time?
Is your baby more interested in the foods you are eating? Has your baby done a good job eating cereal?
Take your time introducing your baby to foods one by one to keep a close eye on any potential food allergies your baby can develop. Start with foods that you can mash up to make feeding time easier.
Remember to balance out your baby's daily food intake because, at the end of the day, you are trying to provide your baby with the necessary nutrients needed to continue their growth and development.
Every food from this moment forward should provide nutritional value that will carry your baby through to the next phase of their little lives.