Carefully choosing which baby foods are best for your little one is only half the battle when it comes to baby food. You also have to decide when to introduce solids, and choose between brands, ingredients, and consistency.
On top of this, it’s important to know when to order new baby food. When is your little one ready to move on to a new baby food or stage, and how will you know? How do you know when your baby foods have expired or when it’s time to order new ones? These are questions we’ve all asked as parents, and we know they can get a little overwhelming.
But don’t worry, we’ve got answers! Let’s talk about how to know when you should order new baby food!
Order When Your Baby is Ready for a New Stage
Babies need different foods at different stages. From 4-6 months, your little one will need thinner, single ingredient foods, especially when they first start eating solids. On the other hand, your 11-month-old may be ready to tackle bite-sized snacks and finger foods like a pro!
Knowing which stage your baby is in will help you figure out when to order new baby food!
Why does your baby need to follow baby food stages?
The short answer is—your baby doesn’t need to follow the stages exactly. Some babies move faster than others, and timelines are unique to every baby. But the stages do provide a great general guideline for your baby’s nutrition needs and which baby foods to buy and when.
Let’s talk about some of the benefits of following these stages.
It’s easier on their tummies.
Up until starting solids, your baby’s tummy has only had breastmilk or formula.Breastmilk and formula provide all the nutrients your baby needs from hydration to vitamins like iron. These liquids are also very gentle on their tummies.
When you begin introducing solids, it’s important to go slow. Introduce different textures and consistencies and ingredients at a slow pace so your baby’s tummy is slowly acclimated to solid foods.
It provides the nutrients they need at each developmental milestone.
Babies needdifferent nutrients at different stages of their life. For instance, they need iron at 6 months, protein at 7 months, and magnesium at 8 months to promote their sleep cycles. From 9 to 10 months, your baby needs change and they’ll rely more on copper, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. Your 11-month-old needs choline to promote brain function, and at 12 months, they need more calcium to promote strength and movement.
It’s an important step of baby-led weaning.
If you are following ababy-led weaning method to introduce new foods and wean off of breastfeeding, then following stages is an important part of this process. You don’t have to follow the stages exactly. By simply listening to your baby and paying attention to their hunger cues, you can know when they’re ready to move on to a different one.
It helps develop their palate.
Baby food stages are great because they introduce your little one to the world of flavor and foods slowly. Stages are easy on their tummies, aka their tiny tanks, and help them receive the different nutrients, as well as develop their palate and motor skills.
How To Know When Your Baby is Ready for a New Stage
There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to baby food and introducing new stages. The best way to know if your baby is ready is simply to listen. Your instincts and your baby’s hunger cues will tell you exactly what you need to know about your baby’s food!
Here are some common signs that your baby is ready to move on to a new stage of baby food, and that you can order more food!
They’re interested in what you’re eating.
A great way to know if your baby is ready for a new food is how they act when you eat! If your little one reaches for your snacks and pays attention to when you’re eating food, or shows hunger cues when you eat, they may be ready to move on to a more solid food or some added ingredients and textures.
They still act hungry after finishing their food.
Paying attention to your baby’s hunger cues will help you know when they’re ready for you to order something new.
For instance, let’s say your little one is eating single-ingredient purees. One day after a feeding they’re still showing signs of hunger and acting like they’re not full. This may tell you they’re ready to move on to another stage, new flavors, or other nutrient-dense meals, which means you can go ahead and order new baby foods!
They enjoy their food!
If they don’t like it, it might be time to put it in reverse. For instance, if you introduce a new food and your baby is pushing away the spoon, rejecting food, or showing distaste, it’s okay to go back to the previous stage. If they are loving it, move on ahead. But remember, if can take between 12-15 tries for a baby to accept a new taste.
One of the challenges of parenting is getting advice from ten different directions. Your mother-in-law swears by this method of eating, while your best friend told you something completely contradictory.
So, let’s bust some of the myths commonly associated with ordering new baby foods and when you should do it!
MYTH: You need to wait until your baby is over a year old to introduce allergens.
You may have heard from your friends or in-laws that introducing common allergens to your baby can harm them, and that waiting until a year is the best way to keep them safe. Some even wait until two or three years old to introduce allergens in fear that they’ll cause allergies. However, as research about allergens increases, it becomes more obvious that this advice is based on tradition rather than science.
New scientific research is showing that introducing allergens to your baby as soon as 4 to 6 months old may actually serve to prevent allergies in later life and eliminate sensitivities! There is no evidence that giving your baby common allergens causes allergies.
There are many parents who’ve been told not to introduce too many flavors at once. However, research shows that introducing flavors and textures is vital to forming your baby’s eating habits for the rest of their lives.
This principle is built on the idea thatthe first 1,000 days of your baby’s life are when nutrition matters the most. From conception to the 2-year mark, what you feed your baby shapes their eating habits and sets the stage for a life of nutrition, or a battle with food. This source shows that children are most receptive to new flavors at 6 to 12 months of age. By exposing them to as many flavors, textures, and colors as you can, you help develop their taste preferences.
As an added bonus, this can also reduce fussiness and prevent your baby from being a picky eater! Nothing is simple when it comes to babies, and pickiness is a part of life, but knowing how to reduce pickiness and fussiness can help your baby’s health for a lifetime! Plus, what’s more fun than getting to watch your baby experience new flavors!
MYTH: You should introduce veggies before fruit.
Tradition holds that introducing vegetables before fruits will eliminate your baby’s sweet tooth. The truth is, however, that we’re all born with somewhat of a sweet tooth. The problem is when babies eat added sugars and artificial sweeteners! While you don’t need to stay away from fruits or nutritious dessert purees, it is a good idea to stay away from fruit juices with added sugars.
The truth is that bothfruits and vegetables are essential for your baby’s diet and provide nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals needed for growth and development! Offering fruits and vegetable purees when introducing solids and as snacks cut up into bite-sized pieces when your baby starts finger foods is a great way to encourage healthy eating habits!
As you’re caring for your little one and learning which foods to feed them and when, remember to cut yourself some slack. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to tell you exactly what to feed your baby and when you should order new baby foods. Your instincts and your baby’s cues will tell you more than enough, and if all else fails, we’re here for you too! From your baby’s first solid foods to what bite-sized snacks to give them, we’ve got you covered. And we’ll make sure each bite is packed with exactly what they need to thrive.