Most pediatricians recommend waiting until a baby is 6 months old to start solid foods, but some say it is possible to start as early as 4 months as long as certain developmental stages have been reached. Basically, complementary feeding should not be introduced before a baby gets to 4 months, and should not be later than 6 months. By 6 months, a baby needs nutrients beyond what breast milk and formula can provide.
Homemade baby foods are usually more healthy and nutritious than store-bought ones. They are a great way to add more nutrients to your baby's diet. Store-bought baby foods tend to lose vitamins and nutrients during processing and a lot of the “yumminess” that can make your baby excited to try new foods and combinations. When you reside in a country where you are not very sure of the quality of food products imported into or produced in the country then you need to be more concerned about offering your baby commercially prepared foods. The Nigerian market is bedeviled with a lot of fake and substandard products that one cannot always be sure if what is being purchased is an original. So the best way to handle the situation especially for babies is to go the homemade way. We have shared some homemade baby food ideas These homemade recipes are more nutritious than foods that have been sitting on a store shelf. But before you select what to offer your baby, take the following precautions
- For fruits used in making purees; buy only fresh, blemish-free fruits. Also, buy those you can be certain have not been preserved with chemicals. We hear stories of using chemicals to preserve fruits like Banana and Pawpaw in Nigeria. As much as possible avoid chemically preserved ones.
- For grains like millet, maize, sorghum etc commonly used in preparing pap, or any other cereals or grains; buy those without weevil and without chemical preservatives. Chemicals are usually used to preserve these grains. Buying such grains when they are fully in season reduces the chances that they would have been preserved. When you buy them when they are not in season, chances are high they have been preserved with chemicals.
- Fruits in season should always be preferred. .Most fruits in Nigeria are seasonal. Not only will you be taking advantage of the season when you prioritize fruits in season, you will be reducing wastage in the economy as well as reducing the chances of offering chemically preserved foods to your baby.
- Avoid exotic fruits. The apples, grapes, and strawberries you see on most supermarket shelves are usually imported and most times preserved chemically to survive the distance and climatic conditions in Nigeria. They also lose some nutrients in the process. We have different fruits in every season so it is best we stick to our local fruit.
- Before preparing baby foods, thoroughly wash your hands and also wash the fruit or vegetable you would be using. It is adviced you use salt in washing the fruit and rinse afterwards.
- Do not introduce two different foods for the first time to your baby. Nutritionists and Dieticians recommend you wait at least 2 days after introduction of a new food before trying another one. This is to monitor your baby's reaction to the food.
- Do not add sweeteners like sugar to your baby's food. Bland or sour -tasting foods like pap can be sweetend with sweet fruits if you so desire. Do not also add salt to baby food. Babies' kidneys are believed to be too fragile to handle salt. Babies below one year should not be offered salt in their foods.
- Use boiled and cooled water to prepare your baby's foods. Most reliable bottled water brands in Nigeria have fakes in the market so the only water you can be sure of is the one whose source you know and have taken an extra measure to boil and cool.
See Baby meal ideas for homemade baby food suggestion.