6 month old baby - FAQ

6 month old baby - FAQ

Q)  The big reheat: does microwave cooking destroy vitamins?

A)  The truth is that any type of cooking (boiling, microwaving, steaming, the works) will inevitably result in some loss of nutrients. For example the Vitamin C content of vegetables is often reduced in the cooking process, especially if you boil the vegetables and tip out the water.   Microwave cooking doesn't destroy any more nutrients than any other technique of cooking.  And the good news is, cooking can sometimes make some nutrients easier to absorb. For example lycopene, a natural antioxidant found in tomatoes, is more easily absorbed from cooked tomatoes compared to raw.

The only thing to watch out with microwave cooking or reheating is for hot spots, so give your baby's food a really good stir and test the temperature of every dish before serving to them.

Q)  How much fluid does my baby need?

A)  We have no trouble telling when a dog is thirsty, panting and slobbering all over the place, but it can be a little trickier with babies.  Breastfed babies get most of the fluid they need from breast milk for around the first six months. Formula fed babies generally do too, however they may need a little extra cooled boiled water in between milk feeds, especially in hot weather.  

From six months onwards, it is a good idea to get your baby learning to take cooled boiled water out of a cup. You can offer a small cup of water with meals, or after a meal so they don’t get too full.   Just remember to avoid juice, cordial or fizzy drinks as they are too high in sugar and can encourage baby to get used to the taste of sweet foods

Q)  Can I add soft lumps to my baby's food?

A)  Absolutely!  In fact, it is recommended that parents start to offer food that is mashed or has small soft lumps to  encourage chewing   from six months.  Getting the texture right is important, so progress with something like finely fork mashed  banana or mashing cooked pumpkin until the lumps are small and soft.   You can also use your baby’s favourite brought baby food puree as a base and mix in some mashed fruit or vegetables for more texture. It is a great way of adding a new twist to those familiar favourites.

Q)  How often should I give my baby meat?

A)  There are no hard and fast rules for how much meat to give your little one. Cooked pureed meat, chicken and fish can all be introduced as first foods at around 6 months.

Perhaps start by aiming to offer them cooked, pureed meat (as part of a meal) five days out of seven.  As you no doubt know, meat is an excellent source of iron and super important for babies, especially from six months onwards.

Q)  Is gluten free the same thing as wheat free?

A)  In short, no.  Gluten intolerance is different to a wheat allergy and both need to be properly diagnosed by a doctor.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye, spelt and barley.  For babies who are sensitive to gluten, foods containing gluten can damage the lining of the digestive system which means they can't digest all the important nutrients from the food, in turn affecting their growth.  Gluten intolerance or coeliac disease seem to be becoming more common but whatever you do, make sure any suspicions you have are properly diagnosed by a doctor as you would hate for your baby to be unnecessarily missing out on vital nutrients.

If your baby has a diagnosed wheat allergy, they will need to avoid products containing wheat however they may still be able to eat other grains such as oats and barley.  The good news is it is not a very common allergy.

If your baby does have a gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, just be very vigilant about checking and reading ingredient lists on food labels. .  Heinz Baby Foods are clearly labelled and if present the ingredient list will include ingredients with wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats.  It is also a good idea to consult a dietitian who can help  work out a meal plan of foods your baby can eat to make sure they don't miss out on any important nutrients.

Q)  When can I give my baby cow's milk?

A)  Babies aren't ready for cow's milk as a main drink until they are 12 months or older.  A little sprinkled on their cereal here and there is fine but breast milk or infant formula need to remain your little one's main drink in their first year of life.

When your baby becomes a toddler (over one year old), their digestive system will be able to handle cow's milk.  From this age onwards, cow's milk can be given as the main milk drink but it should be full fat until your toddler is at least two years of age.  From two years you can introduce low or reduced fat milk  if your toddler is a good eater and has a varied diet.

Q)  Why does my baby not like lumps and gags whenever I feed them to him?

A)  Gagging when you try to introduce lumpy foods is a natural reaction for your baby.  Gagging is designed to help protect your baby's airways.  When introducing more texture into baby’s food from 6 months start by offering food with the texture of a well mashed banana. Gradually include more small soft lumps in a thick puree. Avoid solid lumps in liquid (like whole peas in gravy) as your baby will have trouble separating the two in their mouths and could run the risk of choking.

It could also be that your baby isn't quite ready for lumps or the lumps are a bit big – it really is different for every baby. If they don't accept smaller, softer lumps just keep patiently trying. Remember, your baby will progress at his or her own pace. Have a chat to your GP or child health nurse if you are worried.
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