Tips for Starting Solid Foods
Adding new foods to your baby's diet is essential for healthy growth and development. The transition to solid foods can help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid foods around 6 months of age. Look for these cues that baby is ready:
- Has the coordination necessary to move food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing (rather than pushing the tongue against the spoon or mouth)
- Holds head steady and upright
- Sits with support
- Seems hungry between regular feedings or wakes at night to feed
- Is interested in what you're eating
Food Allergy Concerns
Check with your baby's doctor before starting solid foods. He or she may suggest waiting if your family has a history of food allergies. Waiting until baby's digestive system is more mature may reduce the risk of allergic reactions.
There is no conclusive evidence that proves avoiding certain foods early in life prevents food allergies altogether, but doing so at least prolongs the allergy-free period. Talk to your doctor about a plan for introducing these foods:
- Solid foods at 6 months or older
- Milk and other dairy (such as cheese and yogurt) in small amounts between 8-10 months or older
- Mashed eggs yolks, not whites, between 8-10 months
- Be cautious about introducing peanuts, shellfish and whole eggs until after one year
Ready, Set ... Spoon!
You may be excited to begin the transition to solid foods, but don't be surprised if baby is not so sure. The taste and consistency of new foods may be strange, overwhelming or even upsetting. It's going to be messy (put on a bib)! Here are some tips for getting started:
- Start with baby cereal. Mix one teaspoon of a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breast milk. Although the mixture may be quite thin, use a spoon to feed it to baby once or twice a day. As baby perfects eating cereal, you can reduce the amount of liquid mixed in.
- Try pureed fruits and vegetables next. Introduce new foods one at a time with at least one week between each new food. You might buy baby food in jars or pouches or make your own (think pureed cooked carrots and squash).
- Keep it low-key. Choose a time for feeding when you aren't rushed or tired and your child is also well-rested and (hopefully) in a good mood. Don't force the issue if baby cries or turns away. Simply continue nursing and try again in another week or two.
- Use either a small spoon or the tip of your finger. Don't put baby cereal or food in a bottle or infant feeder with a nipple.
- Keep a food diary. Write down what your baby eats, how much, likes/dislikes and any changes you notice after baby eats the food. It's helpful to have this information available to share with your child's doctor.
If you have questions about how to start your child on solid foods, don't hesitate to call your child's doctor.
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