Baby Feeding in the first year
Homemade baby foods. It is more economical to prepare your own baby foods if you are able to freeze what you do not use immediately. You can also ensure that they do not include ingredients your child may be allergic to. However, you will probably not be able to prepare all your babys meals yourself so it is wise to have a supply of commercial foods on hand as well. See p. 125 for details on preparing your babys meals.
Commercially prepared baby foods. Cereals, fruits, vegetables and meat meals are available commercially and they are a convenient form of baby food. Most of the well-known brands are free from preservatives and colouring and the salt content has been drastically reduced. Sugar is only added when absolutely necessary. Bottled baby foods are considered to be nutritionally sound and are suitable for infants except in cases of specific allergy such as gluten intolerance, because the stabiliser used may contain wheat, or if the baby is overweight, because they may contribute too many added kilojoules. Although they are more expensive than home cooked fotids, bottled baby foods are convenient, especially when you travel and can provide out-of-season vegetables and fruit to add variety to your babys diet.
Points to remember
Do not feed your baby from the jar unless you are sure she will finish the contents because saliva will spoil any left-over food very quickly. Take out what you need and put it in a clean cup or empty baby food jar. Stand in hot water to make the food lukewarm. Remove from hot water and give to your baby. You can then store the jar of unused baby food in the fridge for 48 hours.
Read the labels on baby food containers. Those containing monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners or colouring should not be used.
Cereals. Cereals are usually the first solids to be introduced in a babys diet. They provide heat and energy, and when unrefined products are used later on, they supply minerals, vitamins and fibre as well. Too much cereal and starchy foods can spoil the appetite for other foods because they are filling. They can also make your child fat.
The homemade porridge your family eats is fine for your baby but it must have a very smooth consistency (sieve if necessary), if the baby is less than six months old. Oats, mealie meal, mabella meal, creamed wheat and semolina are all suitable although wheat should be introduced with care and preferably after six months of age. Cornflour and rice are not strictly porridge but can be served. Cornflour, in particular, is digestible and smooth and you can mix in a raw egg yolk occasionally to increase the food value.
You can make up a small amount of porridge or cornflour by bringing a cupful of water to the boil. Mix one or two tablespoons as directed on the label with cold water and add to the boiling water. Allow to cook according to the instructions. Add milk (121) and a little sugar if she will not take it without sugar or if she becomes constipated. If you make more than you need for one day you can keep it covered in the fridge until the next day. Sprinkle a little sugar over it while it is still hot to prevent a thick skin forming.
Ready-cooked commercial cereals. Pre-cooked cereals are convenient to use and are often fortified with added vitamins and iron. They may need only the addition of water (the kinds that have added milk powder) or milk (121 for the use of milk in cereals). Always use cooled liquids to mix cereals because they are inclined to become lumpy. Pre-cooked cereals can be fattening, so avoid if your baby is overweight.
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