In an attempt to make it easier for parents to know when their baby should progress a step closer to ordinary table food, Gerber brand baby food began implementing their "step program." Marked with age and development guidelines, these foods can make the job of helping your child become an independent eater a little smoother. However, many parents find they're unsure when to move their baby on to Stage 3 Gerber foods.
Gerber, a popular manufacturer of baby food, breaks their products down into several "stages:" Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3. Stage 3 Gerber baby foods are the last step before your baby can graduate to ordinary table food. Stage 3 foods often have more than one food mixed together--and while they are partially strained, they also have small, tender chunks of food in them. In addition, meats are introduced. The jars are also larger than Stage 2 food jars, to accommodate your baby's growing appetite.
Not all baby food manufacturers define the food stages the same way. Therefore, "Stage 3" food from a different baby food manufacturer isn't necessarily appropriate for a baby who is ready for Gerber Stage 3 foods.
Before your baby begins eating Stage 3 food, he must first eat Stage 1 foods (for those just starting solids). These include rice cereal and finely pureed fruits and vegetables. These are usually started between 4 and 6 months of age.
Then he should move on to Stage 2 foods, which are usually begun between the ages of 7 and 8 months, and include fruits and vegetables that are strained. They may also include some grains.
Before you give your baby Stage 3 Gerber food, she should be well versed in Stage 2 foods. Stage 3 foods are usually introduced between 9 and 12 months of age.
Although pediatricians recommend starting certain stages of baby food at certain ages, bear in mind that each child is different. Although age can be used as a guideline, it's more important to pay attention to your baby's comfort level. If you try Stage 3 food and your baby chokes and refuses to eat more, set the Stage 3 food aside for a few weeks, and then try again. Although a little bit of coughing is normal when your child first experiences thicker and lumpier food, repeated coughing or choking is a sign she's not yet ready and should be switched back to strained foods.
Nonetheless, if your child seems unable to progress to the next stage of food when it appears to be age appropriate, talk to your pediatrician.