Let Your Six-Month-Old Baby Explore New Tastes of Food

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spoonBy the age of six months, your baby should be eating three meals a day. The quantity will vary from child to child but by this stage your baby is ready to enjoy a wide variety of tastes. This is a stage of quite rapid development and your baby will spend many more hours awake. Whereas a six-month-old baby still needs to be supported when you are feeding him, a nine-month-old is usually strong enough to sit in a high chair.


The next hurdles

Try to make eating a sociable event and let your baby join you at mealtimes whenever possible. Never force a baby to eat something he doesn't want. Instead, let your baby's appetite be your guide. As long as your baby is happy and continues to grow, he should be fine.

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Babies should have 500 to 600 ml (18 to 20 fl oz) of formula or breast milk each day up to the age of one year. A portion of the milk intake can come from dairy product like cheese and yoghurt. If your baby is not hungry at mealtimes, you may find that cutting down on the amount of milk your baby drinks will mean that he is hungrier for his solids and therefore not so fussy about the texture of his food.

Introducing more texture

Having introduced a wide range of single ingredient purees, you can now combine foods to make tasty meals for your baby. As teeth begin to emerge, introduce slightly coarser textures into your baby's food. Your baby will probably still mostly use his gums to chew and it is surprising how efficient these are at chomping their way through food. It is not a good idea to continue giving only smooth purees for too long or your baby may become lazy about chewing and have difficulty developing the tongue movement needed to cope with solids.

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For a gradual introduction you could mix some mashed or grated food with some of your baby's favourite purees. So, if your child likes carrots, for example, puree some of the carrots and mash some and mix the two together. You can slowly increase the proportions until all the food is mashed. Don't expect him to be thrilled by this change as lumps take a bit of getting used to. Some babies will cope very well with chopped food at nine months but others still prefer smoother textures.

Another way to introduce texture into your baby's meals is to prepare a fairly smooth puree and then add some tiny cooked pasta shapes. For older children you can mix cooked pasta shapes with bite-sized pieces of cooked vegetables like carrots, french beans and broccoli.

Learning to eat red meat

I think that sometimes we mistakenly believe that babies don't like the taste of certain foods when, in fact, it is the texture that they object to. This is often the case with meat. Unless you choose to bring up your child as a vegetarian, red meat is an excellent food as it provides the best source of iron, which is vitally important for both physical and mental development. Babies are born with a store of iron that lasts for about six months. After this it is important to make sure they get the iron they need from their food. A baby's iron requirements are particularly high between six and twelve months.

The trouble is that meat can be very chewy and so I have found that the best way to make it more palatable is to combine it with root vegetables or pasta, both of which will help to produce a much smoother and easier to swallow texture. I find that when cooking minced meat for older babies, for example as a Bolognese sauce, it is still much better received if once the meat is cooked it is then chopped for a few seconds in a food processor.

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