The feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk dir …
Baby food is any food, other than breastmilk or infant formula, that is made specifically for infants, roughly between the ages of four months to two years. The food comes in multiple varieties and tastes, can be produced by many manufacturers, or may be table food that the rest of the family is eating, mashed up. Because infants lack teeth, many different baby foods are designed for ease of eating; they are either a soft, liquidy paste or an easily chewed food.
Babies typically move to consuming baby food once nursing or formula is not sufficient for the child's appetite. Babies do not need to have teeth to transition to eating solid foods. Teeth, however, normally do begin to show up at this age. Care should be taken with certain foods that pose a choking hazard, such as undercooked vegetables, or food that may contain bones. Babies should begin eating liquid style baby food, sometimes mixed with rice cereal and formula, or breast milk. Pureed vegetables and fruits are an example of liquid style baby food. Then, as baby is better able to chew, small, soft pieces or lumps may be included. Care should be taken, as babies with teeth have the ability to break off pieces of food but they do not possess the back molars to grind, so concerned parents should carefully mash or break baby food into manageable pieces for baby. Around 6 months of age, babies may begin to feed themselves (picking up food pieces with hands, using the whole fist, or later the pincer grasp- thumb and forefinger) with help from parents.
It is often recommended to give baby solid food at around 6 months of age, but babies differ greatly. The only good way to know when to introduce baby food is to watch for signs of readiness in the child. Signs of readiness include the ability to sit without help, loss of tongue thrust and the display of active interest in food that others are eating. Baby may be started directly on normal family food if attention is given to choking hazards, this is referred to as baby-led weaning. Because breast milk takes on the flavor of foods eaten by the mother, these foods are especially good choices.
If there is a family history of allergies, one may wish to introduce only one new food at a time, leaving a few days in between to notice any reactions that would indicate a food allergy or sensitivity. This way if baby is unable to tolerate a certain food then it can be determined which food is causing the reaction.
In the 20th century, it was common to start infants on solid food from 4 months onwards; however, current research and WHO/UNICEF "Baby Friendly" guidelines recommend only breast milk until at least 6 months of age.