We are delighted to begin by congratulating you for having a baby and applauding you for desiring to know how to care for your baby adequately, which is why you are reading this piece.
The parenting journey is quite exciting, as you will find out.
Your baby will experience delightful growth-points like learning to sit up, crawling, and growing teeth in their first 12 months. (1)
One of these significant transitions is switching from purees to taking more complex foods.
Rome was not built in a day. Right?
The digestive system of your baby will not develop the capacity to digest solids in a day. (2)
Hence, you need a system that can help you capture the development of your baby’s digestive system so that by the end of the first 12 months, you would have achieved a broad and varied diet. (3)
This is where stages of baby food come in.
So, what are the stages of baby food available?
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics does not give specific instructions concerning baby food stages, most famous brands use four stages spread over the first 12 months. (3)
They are discussed as follows:
Stage 1 baby food are healthy for babies aged 4 to 6 months.
In the past, professionals recommend Rice cereal as the ideal stage 1 food; however, in recent times, it has been discovered that you can give other foods like veggies, pureed meat, and fruit purees to babies in stage 1.
Stage 2 baby food are suitable for babies aged 7 to 8 months.
Generally, 2nd stage baby foods are:
- made from a combination of two or more food items,
- a little thicker in texture than stage 1 food, and
- made with more complex flavors.
Stage 3 baby food are ideal for babies aged 9 to 12 months.
They have a thicker texture than stage 2 foods and usually contain pieces that babies can chew.
Stage 4 is for babies over 12 months of age.
This is where they can join the rest of the family to eat what is served at the table.
Also, babies in stage 4 can feed on commercially prepared toddler foods like:
- Gerber Toddler Foods Apple Mango Brown Rice with Vanilla,
- Earth’s Best Toddler Breakfasts, Snacks, and Entrees,
- Heinz Step 4 Toddler Cuisine Chicken and Stars with Vegetables and Gravy, among others.
In this article, we will focus on the 2nd stage foods.
For detailed information about feeding babies in other stages, you can check out other articles from us.
When should you begin to give your baby 2nd stage food?
We believe that your answer is, “when my baby is 7 to 8 months.” However, you must note that age recommendations for stages of baby food are only general guidelines.
Your baby can be mature for 2nd stage food before seven months old; interestingly, your baby may not be ripe for stage 2 food until they are 10 months old.
There are more definite signs that help you know when your baby is ready. They include:
Loss of tongue reflex
When your baby no longer involuntarily pushes out food while feeding them, it may be a sign that they are ready for the 2nd stage foods.
No allergy to a variety
If you’ve fed your baby with different categories of stage 1 food like grains, fruits, veggies, and meat, and they do not show any sign of intolerance, it may be time to progress to stage 2 baby food.
Good mastery of stage 1 foods
When your baby finds it very easy and exciting to mouth and swallow stage 1 baby foods, you may begin to think of advancing to stage 2 foods.
Quest for more
When stage 1 foods don’t satisfy your baby any longer, it’s time to start giving them stage 2 baby food.
Which food items can babies in stage 2 have?
When you are sure that your baby is ready for stage 2, you can buy commercially prepared stage 2 baby foods, prepare the food at home, or mix both.
Some famous commercially made stage 2 baby food are discussed below:
- Beech-Nut comes in different pouches and jars and has different flavors like pineapple, apple, banana, avocado, and pear.
- Gerber comes in flavors like chicken noodle, peach mango, and oatmeal. It is also served in different pouches and jars.
- Plum comes in several flavors like pumpkin, spinach, pear, and pea.
- Earth’s best is a stage 2 option that comes in several flavors like barley, white bean, sweet potato, and pasta with tomato.
Some popular homemade stage 2 recipes are discussed below:
- Boil Apple, Carrot, and Butternut until they are very soft. Drain and set aside some of the water as you may have to use it to thin the mixture. Blend, after adding some curry to taste.
- Measure equal amounts of chickpeas and blueberries, and mix, then blend. Add formula, breastmilk, or water to the resulting blend as you desire. Also, you should add little amounts of rice for texture. You don't have to cook the chickpea yourself; you can purchase an already prepared chickpea.
- Spray a mixture of vegetables and salmon with oil and boil for between 12 and 15 minutes. Blend the resulting item after adding chopped parsley. Also, you can add breast milk, water, or formula as you desire.
While it is true that your baby can now take thicker food, you must be careful not to give them chunks or small pieces of food that may make them choke. Ensure that the food you give them is well mashed.
You like honey, don’t you?
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics says,
Never give your baby honey before they are one year old.
The digestive system of babies cannot handle Clostridium Bacterium, a bacterium that lives in the dust and soil, which also contaminates honey. (3)
Babies infected with this bacterium will experience muscle weakness, breathing issues, and a weak cry. (4)
Now that you have known when to start giving stage 2 baby food to your baby, we believe that the next question on your mind is
When should I stop giving my baby 2nd stage food?
When we discussed the appropriate time to start giving your baby stage 2 food, we said there is no hard and fast rule.
The same applies to the question of when to stop giving your baby the 2nd stage baby foods. However, babies are usually ready for stage 3 foods after about 1 to 4 months from when they started taking stage 2 baby food.
What are other signs that your baby is ready to move to stage 3 baby foods?
- They start to push your hand away when you feed them.
- They attempt to collect the spoon from you when you are giving them food.
- They have better coordination of the hand and eyes.
- They play with the plates containing their food while you are feeding them.
- They have improved in the mastery of the pincer grasp.
Be careful not to compare your baby with any other.
Let the process of transition from one stage of baby food to the other be natural.
We have not answered a crucial question, which is
How do I introduce my baby to 2nd stage foods?
The general principle of feeding babies is not to change their food completely at once; make the transition gradual.
Like other humans, most babies do not like change.
Thus, when you start giving stage 2 baby foods to your baby, continue giving them the usual breast milk or formula.
If your baby refuses to eat the 2nd stage foods when you try giving them the first time, don't give up; try again later.
Now that we have gone through different stages of baby food available when to start giving your baby stage 2 foods, the varieties of stage 2 foods that your baby will find attractive, when to stop giving your baby 2nd stage foods, and how to introduce your baby to stage 2 foods, we must consider the precautions that are necessary so your baby profits maximally from receiving the 2nd stage foods.
What are the precautions to take when feeding babies in the 2nd Stage?
Give fresh food as much as you can
Due to the mode of preparation and the nature of 2nd stage foods, they are susceptible to being infected by bacteria when they are not stored properly or stored for longer than expected.
To avoid the risk of giving your baby spoilt food, feed them with fresh food as often as you can.
If your baby didn’t finish an already prepared food, you should store the rest safely in a refrigerator.
But be careful not to store for longer than is expected.
Read the label
If you need to purchase commercially prepared 2nd stage foods, you should carefully read the label to ensure that your baby is not allergic to any of the ingredients used in preparing the food.
You should also check how long you can store the food to know if it fits your schedule and budget.
Ensure safe feeding
Be sure to always strap your child safely to their chair when they are eating.
Please do not leave them to feed while you do other things; keep an eye on them as they eat.
We have mentioned earlier that you should only feed your baby with little stage 2 foods, especially when starting.
In addition to this, do not include solid foods like nuts, popcorns, and seeds in their meal.
Also, avoid feeding your baby with wheat, except your pediatrician says to go ahead with it.
Be sure to slice hot dogs, grapes, and other round foods before feeding them to your baby.
We have mentioned this earlier, but we needed to mention it again because it is crucial.
Your baby can be down with botulism infection if you give them honey. Therefore, never feed your baby with honey.(5)
To aid proper development in your baby, you should stick to breast milk, formula, or water when feeding them stage 2 foods.
The American Association of Pediatrics advises that you should not feed babies with juice. (6)
Once again, congratulations on having your baby; we are sure that this article and others from us will immensely help take proper care of your baby.