Caring for Family

Tips for starting solid foods and food allergy red flags

Cooking for the Family

Introducing your baby to his or her first solid foods is exciting! There’s plenty of fun to be had in watching your baby’s face while trying new foods and getting your first peek at likes and dislikes — as temporary as they may be!

Getting Started

By around the age of 6 months, most babies are ready to begin tasting their first solid foods. Every child is different, so it may help to look for some of these signs, which typically indicate it may be time to try solid food:

  • Your baby has become interested in what you’re eating.
  • Food stays in your baby’s mouth most of the time without dribbling out.
  • Your baby seems to want more beyond a bottle or your usual nursing schedule.
  • Your baby’s weight has about doubled since birth.
  • Your baby is able to sit up with some support and hold his or her head steady.

When your baby is ready, it’s best to begin with simple foods. The two foods mostly commonly given as “starters” are:

Single-grain cereals, fortified with iron. Single-grain cereals are usually easy to digest. In addition, your baby begins to lose natural stores of iron around this time, so having an iron-fortified cereal can be beneficial. Start off mixing cereals with formula, breast milk or water.

Pureed fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are fine for starting out. Bananas, avocados, applesauce and sweet potatoes are popular first choices. Don’t worry if your baby seems to prefer fruits over vegetables. It’s natural for all of us, babies included, to be drawn to sweeter tastes. But be sure to continue giving both fruits and vegetables.

Tips for Success

Even at this young age, your child has opinions. So don’t be surprised if you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for when you make your first attempts at feeding solid food. Try these tips to increase your chances of success:

  • It’s best to attempt solid foods when your baby is hungry, but not too hungry.
  • Feed your baby his or her typical liquid meal, but stop before he or she is full.
  • Choose a time when your baby is in a good mood.

Not every feeding attempt is going to be successful. Just because your baby rejects a food, doesn’t mean he or she hates it. The experience is completely new and there could be any number of reasons for rejecting the food at that time — so try, try again!

Watching for Allergies

As you begin introducing your baby to new foods, you’ll want to be mindful to watch for any type of allergic reaction. Symptoms could include:

  • Coughing
  • Development of a rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Flushed skin
  • Hives
  • Vomiting

If your child has a severe allergic reaction, always call 911 immediately. If your child has a mild reaction, inform your pediatrician and together you can develop a plan to deal with allergies.

To make identifying an allergen easier, only introduce your baby to one new food at a time. If you feed your child several new types of food in one day, you may not be sure which one caused an allergic reaction.

Here to Help

The pediatric specialists at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children are your partner in all aspects of the health and wellness of your child. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have as you and your baby encounter new milestones and achievements. Visit us to learn more about Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children’s pediatric specialties.