Ideally, baby's first food is breast milk. It contains the right balance of nutrients to meet their needs. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains natural substances that help protect babies from infection and food allergies.
Infant formulas are available for babies whose mothers decide not to breastfeed or are not able to.
All babies develop at their own rate, but they usually start on solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age. Babies begin to show their desire for food by opening their mouths and leaning forward. Feeding solid foods too early may increase risks of food allergies and chocking.
Rice cereal (or single-grain cereal) is mostly used as babies first solid food, followed by vegetables, fruits and meats. Try to introduce one new food at a time, so you will be able to identify any foods that cause allergies in your baby.
The toddler phase, 1-3 years, can often be challenging when it comes to feeding. Most toddlers go through a phase in which they only eat a narrow range of foods. They need time to learn to eat a variety of food by watching others eating those foods, so try to eat with your toddler as much as you can. Have a play date with other toddlers he may eat better with others in his same age group.
Many babies or toddlers are slow eaters, and this is a good habit to promote. As adults, we find ourselves shoveling food in and don't take the time to enjoy our meals. This is a bad eating habit. And never force babies to eat. They are born knowing how much they need to eat to grow and thrive. Overfeeding can lead to weight problems.
Astrin Damayanti is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in San Joaquin County.