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Tips For Babies' Food

Babies grow quickly in the first year of life, so they need plenty of energy and nutrients. Babies grow in spurts, which means that appetite and hunger can vary from day to day. Breast milk or infant formula is the most important food for babies until about 12 months of age, but it is essential that solid foods are also introduced.

By about six months of age, a baby's iron stores are low and extra foods will be needed to prevent later nutritional problems. Start to introduce solids around six months of age - depending on the developmental needs of your child.

Starting baby on solids

Starting solids too early can cause problems

Hungry babies should be offered more breast or formula feeds until they are ready for solids. Some parents want to try solids before four months, believing this may help baby grow, sleep or settle better. Giving solids too early rarely helps these problems and may lead to other difficulties including:

Don't leave starting solids too late

It's also important that starting solids is not left too late, as this may lead to problems, such as:

How do you know when your baby is ready for solids?

When your baby starts to need the nutrients that solid food can provide, there will also be signs they are ready to try new foods. These clues can include:

At nine to 12 months your baby will develop other feeding skills including:

Signs that your baby isn't yet interested in solids or is full may include:

If this happens at your first attempts to feed your baby, relax and try again in a few days. While most babies naturally spit food out when first given solids, they soon learn to swallow if you continue.

Tips for introducing solids

Food should be given on a small, infant-size spoon. Tips for introducing solids include:

When a baby is weaned from the breast or bottle, it may have reduced body stores of iron and vitamins C and D. To maintain nutrient body stores:

Some foods are not suitable for babies under 12 months. These include:

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Elliot, N. 2004, Green Peace. Practical Parenting.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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From around 12 months on your baby should be ready to eat normal family foods. Babies who have been breast fed will not need extra vitamins or minerals (at least for the first six months). Bottle fed babies may benefit from vitamin and mineral drops. After six months the baby may benefit from the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements.