Just like baby milk bottles where there are plenty of configurations to choose from, your baby’s food specifically made for them that you can buy off the grocery shelves also contain information that might not be well-known to all parents.
Gerber, for example, may use terms such as ‘1st foods’, ‘2nd foods’, and so on, while others also follow suit.
In this article, I will go over the information that you need to know so that you can make sense of all of these stages and steps found on baby food labels.
What Are These?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition, they’ve advised that there are only two things that parents must always remember: begin with ‘stage 1 foods’ and continue to transition to higher levels of food depending on the experience and the age of the baby. Popular brands would use a 4-stage metric that will coincide with how old your baby is. The counting starts at 4-6 months and would continue until 12 months and above.
Although popular brands make use of these different stages, it is important that they are, by no means, standardized. This convention is mainly used to help parents know exactly when and what to food their babies, given their appropriate age.
The general explanation of these steps are as follows:
Stage 1: 4 to 6 Months
At this stage, your baby is able to eat solid foods, albeit only on a single-food basis. It is also important that any ‘solid’ food that they eat should be pureed in order for them to digest it properly. Single-ingredient foods like pureed fruits and vegetables, as well as rice cereals, can be fed to your baby at this point in their lives.
Stage 2: 7 to 8 Months
The second stage of foods is a combination of single ingredients, as well as foods that are ‘strained’ instead of being pureed. This is because your babies are already priming themselves to eat foods that are a little bit solid.
Stage 3: 9 to 12 Months
At this stage, your baby starts to grow some teeth, which allows them to chew on more solid foods. You can even feed them foods that are a bit chunky now so to help encourage chewing.
You will know if the foods are apt for stage 3 if they are kept in much bigger bottles, as well as the label that indicates that it is so.
Stage 4: 12 Months and Beyond
When your baby is already 1-year-old and above, it is pretty safe to have them eat whatever it is that your family is eating. If they have difficulty eating certain types of foods, probably because it is too big for them to chew on, mash them a little bit or slice them up to introduce bite-sized portions. It is important to note that while you are introducing solid foods to your baby that you do not forget to feed them with breastmilk or formula milk as well.