Milk, and ideally breast milk, should be a baby’s basic food during the first two years of his life. However, after the first six months of life, milk cannot provide all the necessary nutrients a child needs to grow.
During the first year of complementary feeding, it is advisable to divide meals into two, so that half of what the child consumes is milk, and the other half is solid foods. Normally you should gradually reduce the amount of milk in your child’s daily diet.
Ideally, you should start incorporating foods into your baby’s diet as soon as you begin complementary feeding, and doing so one at a time, without mixing foods so as to detect in time whether your baby is allergic to any of them. Once you have tried different foods and can be sure that they will not cause your child any problems, you can then begin to mix and combine them in your preparations, but without adding any salt or sugar.
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you gradually incorporate the following types of food into your baby’s diet:
- Cereals: rice cereal is one of the most popular options to begin with, as it is a food that rarely generates any allergies. The most recommended rice cereals are fortified with iron and sugar.
The European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition –(ESPGHAN) recommends that you introduce types of gluten-rich foods gradually, between the fourth and seventh months of life.
- Creams or purees: once cereals have been incorporated into a baby’s diet, usually foods like vegetables, red meat and mashed or cream tubers will be introduced, and then fruit compotes.
- Juices: fruit juices should ideally be pasteurized and given as part of a meal, rather constantly throughout the day. You should not exceed 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day.
- Jarred foods: you can also incorporate jarred foods such as compotes once you begin complementary feeding, but be especially mindful about reading the instructions and checking the expiration dates. Note that a sensible shelf life for these products once they’re opened is 2 to 3 days.