Baby Food: what is it, and how should I choose?

You may have come across the term baby food.

In this article, we’ll look at what it is, what to feed a newborn, why baby food should be warmed, when to stop, and we’ll give you information about weaning at 4 months.

What is baby food?

Early childhood foods are known as baby food.

These types of foods, which can be found in various consistencies, include:

  • sauces
  • freeze-dried foods
  • pureed foods
  • biscuits
  • fruit juices
  • yogurt and much more.

They usually have a specific placement, in the refrigerated section or on the shelves of large supermarkets.

It’s also very common for these products, with very cute and attractive packaging, to be full of claims that can attract parents’ attention.

What to feed a newborn?

A newborn can freely eat what parents offer: either in cream form or in safe-sized pieces.

The diet, as for us adults, should be balanced in the various macronutrients: fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and should meet the physiological needs of the little one, which are, month after month, increasingly incessant and substantial.

A little one, during weaning, has a diet consisting of:

  • 50% from carbohydrate sources
  • 25% from protein sources
  • 25% from fiber sources (given by vegetables and fruits)

Rotating the major protein sources (eggs, fish, meat, legumes and cheeses) will be of considerable importance to give a wide dietary variety.

To give more flavor to dishes, it’s possible to use spices sparingly.

Why should baby food be warmed?

In preparing meals with pureed foods, it’s important to recondition the product as indicated on the packaging, in order to avoid microbiological contamination that could occur when opening the vacuum-sealed package.

baby food

When to stop with pureed foods?

Initially, many parents prefer to use pureed foods because they are more reassured by the proposed consistency (to avoid the scary gag reflex) and because they often don’t have time for daily preparations.

It’s understandable, but being able to make homemade preparations, closer to family tastes, is possible, but with a bit of organization that isn’t always there.

In these cases, a great help is given by the possibility of freezing meals (even in smaller single portions)

It’s advisable, at least from the eighth/tenth month, to start introducing different consistencies, such as solid foods (suitable consistency and safe cuts), in order to stimulate the gums and teething differently.

Alternatively, you can opt directly for baby-led weaning.

Not only that, this will also be important for digestion and nutrient absorption, functions assigned to the gastrointestinal tract.

What not to feed newborns?

The newborn has a great dietary variety available, with a few small precautions on some restrictions recommended by the WHO, such as:

  • processed and ultra-processed foods
  • foods high in sugar or high in salt
  • honey (botulism risk)
  • mussels (like clams)
  • wild mushrooms

Except for these exceptions, the little ones can eat like their parents.

What can a 4-month-old newborn start eating?

A 4-month-old child, as also specified by the WHO, should ideally be nourished only with breast milk or formula.

To date, studies show that the start of weaning is desirable from the sixth month, unless there are clinical situations where the pediatrician believes it is necessary and appropriate to start earlier (such as cases of severe reflux).

Why not start weaning at 4 months?

Complementary feeding on demand should start from the 6th month, with small tastes in order to get the little ones used to food.

It’s important to wait at least the sixth month, as before that the digestive tract is not developed to the point of being able to digest solid foods and consistencies different from milk.

Obviously, it’s important to respect the signals that tell us whether a little one is ready or not: sitting without support (without the help of the high chair backrest), having an interest in food, and the loss of the extrusion reflex.

These factors are important to monitor and it’s desirable to respect them, in order to have a weaning experience as serene as possible.

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About the Author

Simona Scagli - Nutritionist