From the 6th month of life it is necessary to incorporate new foods that ensure the good development and health of our baby. If we get our baby to acquire healthy eating habits, we will be helping him to have a healthy diet in the future.
It is normal to have doubts about the introduction of food . When do I start? How much? At what time? And if he doesn’t want to?…
As we have always told you, the introduction of food should be done slowly and smoothly , there is no rush. At this age the baby’s main food is and should be milk (breast or formula).
You must offer food to the baby, but never force it , each baby has its own rhythm.
How often should a 6 month old baby eat?
When fruits and cereal porridge have been introduced (6 months), the baby should have the following feeding schedule (this table is indicative, each family must adapt it to their schedules):
- 8-9 am (Breakfast): Breast milk or bottle.
- 11-12 am (Mid-morning): Breast milk or bottle
- 12-13 am (Lunch): Cereal porridge.
- 16-17 pm (Snack): Fruit porridge.
- 20-21 pm (Dinner): Breast milk or bottle.
- 12 pm: Breast milk or bottle (There are babies who have already eliminated this last shot).
Breastfeeding should continue to be on demand.
When vegetables and meat have already been incorporated into the baby’s diet, the scheme is as follows (7 months).
- Breakfast : Gluten-free cereal porridge.
- Mid-morning : From 7 months we can offer him a piece of bread so that he gradually incorporates gluten into the diet).
- Food : Vegetable puree with meat.
- Snack : Fruit porridge.
- Dinner : cereal porridge.
Some baby may continue to ask for milk at night.
This is an example of a daily menu for a 6-month-old baby once vegetables and meat have been introduced (of course this is just a guide, as some babies eat more than others and they vary a lot from month to month, and therefore we don’t need to worry if ours doesn’t fit this pattern):
- Breakfast: Gluten-free cereal porridge
- Mid-morning: Potito of fruit or a piece of bread
- Lunch or Lunch: Mashed rice with chicken and vegetables
- Snack: Mashed banana and avocado
- Dinner: Gluten-free cereal porridge
- Before bed: breast milk or formula (200 cc approx)
How to introduce the different foods
The WHO recommends introducing fruits, gluten-free cereals or vegetables indistinctly. And although there have always been discrepancies on this subject, the latest recommendations of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics on the introduction of different fruits is that “it is advisable to progressively introduce all the variety of fruits and vegetables available, in any of the daily meals, and go also varying the form of presentation (crushed, crushed, in small pieces…). There are no better fruits than others to start with, the decision will depend on the tastes of the family.”
However, I recommend starting with gluten-free cereals or fruits, and when these have already been accepted, then start with vegetables, since, as we said, some may have levels of nitrates, oxalates and fiber that are too high for the baby’s body.
How should we prepare gluten-free cereal porridge?
From the age of 6 months, the baby is ready for the incorporation of cereals or gluten-free infant porridge . However, it is not convenient to add cereals to the bottle. It is best to incorporate it in the form of porridge with a spoon once you lose the extrusion reflex (that is, once you are able to swallow a teaspoon without expelling it with your tongue). On the other hand, the baby will better control when he is full and will let us know by closing his mouth or turning his head.
- We can prepare them with breast milk or initial or continuation formula milk . If you prepare them with breast milk , keep in mind that you will have to put more cereals because it costs more to thicken . The introduction must be done slowly. First a level tablespoon , which we will gradually increase (about 5 tablespoons) so that the baby gets used to the change in texture (from liquid to less liquid) little by little. Whenever you introduce a new food to the baby, slowness and softness must prevail.
- The recommended amount will be about 200 ml , as I always tell you, it is not a norm, it is a recommendation and this will vary in each baby. Whether he drinks 100 ml or 250 ml is normal, it is very important not to force him, when the baby shows signs of being satiated, do not give him more. If, on the contrary, it runs out, we can increase the ration.
Once again I want to remind you that the baby’s main food is milk and that its contribution should never be less than 500 ml .
Cereals with gluten
The Espghan , the Spanish Association of Pediatrics and the FEDN advise that around 7 months (and not much later) small amounts of cereals containing gluten should have appeared in the baby’s diet . Start with small amounts because when the baby is exposed to gluten for the first time it is better to do it little by little . A large dose of gluten (for example a 150ml porridge) increases the risk of triggering celiac disease ( in the case of susceptible babies). Therefore, before starting to give them cereal porridge with gluten, it is best to let them nibble on a little bread or give them a small teaspoon of cooked grits (without liquid).
- To introduce them, if the baby takes 5 scoops of gluten-free cereals , we will have to start by giving him a porridge containing 4 gluten-free scoops and 1 with gluten, the next day 3 gluten-free and 2 with gluten and so on progressively, until at week take the 5 scoops with gluten. In this way we will see with the minimum dose if the child has any intolerance.
First fruit purees
Fruit porridge is one of the first to be offered to babies. From 6 months if the baby is breastfeeding, and from 4 to 6 months if he drinks formula, we can offer them fruit.
- To begin with, we can blend 60 ml of milk (breast or formula) + 100 g of pear or apple . The milk can get a little warm. This dose is sufficient for the first few days (complementing milk intake). If you don’t like it, we can add 1-2 scoops of cereal. We will never add sugar, cookies or honey. All fruit must be without skin or seeds.
- When you have been accepting the apple and pear porridge for a couple of days, we can add 30 g of banana .
- If the baby runs out of porridge, we will increase to 250 ml ( 90-100 ml will be milk ). Remember that complementary feeding is “complementary” to milk and not the other way around. The baby decides when he doesn’t want any more, when he turns his face or closes his mouth, we stop. Bear in mind that fruit is less nutritious than milk, so as long as they reach at least 500ml of milk per day , we should not worry, since at this age, milk should continue to be their main food.
- If the baby has poor digestion, avoid the apple , since it is the fruit that has more gas and can be indigestible (boiled, microwaved or baked is much more digestive).
As for the most recommended types of fruit, although it was previously recommended to delay the introduction of red fruits or peaches and apricots because they are more allergenic than others, the latest AEPED recommendations contradict this, since it is believed that small portions can prevent risk of allergies in the future. However, once again we remind you that you must always introduce each food one at a time, allowing several days to pass between them to observe possible allergic reactions.
It is also the time to incorporate the vegetable purées . The appropriate vegetables to start at 6 months (always introducing them one by one in order to know if any of them have caused allergies, gas, constipation, diarrhoea…) are:
- green bean
- Broccoli and cauliflower can be given after 6 months, as long as they do not produce gas, in which case their introduction could be delayed. But let’s not confuse cauliflower and cabbage, the latter should be delayed until 12 months due to its high content of oxalates and nitrites.
- Onion and leek can be introduced with caution, seeing the child’s tolerance, as they can cause gas.
- Carrots also have high levels of nitrites, but they can be offered after 6 months if it is in small quantities (and always discarding the cooking water, since most of the nitrites will remain there).
- Tomato is one of the most allergenic vegetables. We can give it after 6-7 months and if we see a reaction we will wait for 9-12 months. Choose the most mature and put them cooked without skin or seeds.
- Peas are usually given at 6 months, but as a precaution I recommend incorporating them with the other legumes.
- There are vegetables, which due to their high content of oxalates and nitrites are not suitable for up to 12 months , such as spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, parsnips, asparagus, turnips, beets and celery.
How to make your first vegetable puree
Vegetables can be introduced using the same system as fruits, with a milk base.
- We can put 100 g of potato and 50 g of green beans boiled in water without salt or steamed, grinding them in 100 ml of milk.
- To this porridge we will add 3-5 g of virgin olive oil (½-1 tablespoon dessert).
- It can be made more liquid by adding milk or thicker by putting a scoop of gluten-free cereal.
When the baby has been accepting it for 3-4 days without any problem, we can introduce other vegetables: zucchini, onion, pumpkin, sweet potato… The total volume will be about 250ml of puree. Remember not to force the baby.
It is convenient to make different combinations of vegetables so that the baby gets used to the variety of flavors.
In the same way that we discussed Baby-led Weaning with fruit, we can also do it with vegetables whenever you see that your baby is ready and from 6 months. For example, we can use a large piece of potato, sweet potato, broccoli, carrot… already boiled.
Here are some basic rules to follow when preparing food:
- Select fresh and quality food.
- Maintain perfect hygiene when cooking food, both for the person who prepares it and for the utensils and work surfaces.
- It is very important to always wait a couple of days between each introduction of a new food to see the baby’s reaction. If we notice something strange, consult the pediatrician immediately.
- Cook food with little water, which we will also take advantage of for the preparation of purées and baby food.
- The cooking should not last too long so as not to lose all the nutrients.
- Salt, sugar or honey should never be added before the first year of life.
- You have to respect the baby’s learning, trying to make his approach to food a relaxed and pleasant moment to avoid future confrontations in the future. Never use aggressiveness or force him to eat.
And please always remember that a chubby baby is not synonymous with healthy. It is the pediatrician who must control his weight and height and decide if the baby is in good health. When we excessively force babies to eat, we may be paving the way for a problem of future childhood obesity.
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