When Can I Feed My Baby Solid Food?

January 20, 2014

baby eating_0Most infants are ready for the introduction of solid foods between the ages of four and six months.  Some signs your baby is ready to try spoon feeding include:

  • being able to sit with support
  • being able to hold the head and neck up well
  • being interested in other family member’s food
  • showing signs a liquid diet is no longer making her feel full

Four to six months of age is a developmental stage when infants will try new things.  Waiting until the infant is older may mean the child will not accept the new form of feeding.

A common first food is rice cereal.  It is iron fortified and easy to digest. The cereal can be mixed with formula, breast milk, apple juice or water  Pick a time to introduce the first feeding when the infant is somewhat hungry but not ravenous.  As much or as little as the baby wants is fine.  Don’t be disappointed if more comes out than goes in, eating takes practice just like everything else!

Author and Dr. Jennifer Shu makes some excellent points in her book,  Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality and Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup:

“We now know that 4 to 6 months seems to be the best time, when the baby’s digestive system can handle solids and they don’t impact allergies for the worse,” Shu says. “If you wait until your baby’s much older than 6 months, she may reject the texture.”

WebMD states that some experts cite another important reason to start solid foods by 6 months: That’s when babies’ natural stores of iron begin to deplete, and some babies may not get enough iron in their liquid diets to replace them. (There is more iron in formula than in breast milk, but the iron in breast milk is more readily absorbed.) Iron-fortified baby cereals are a good early source of iron, but once your baby is eating a variety of foods, there are several iron-rich options, including meats, beans, and spinach.

Once the spoon has been mastered, it is fine to introduce other foods with the exception of honey and choking hazards.  Many pediatric allergists feel peanut butter (creamy, not chunky!) is also fine but suggest that once it is introduced, giving a serving at least once weekly should be continued to reduce the chances of developing peanut allergies.  Most allergists also recommend trying only on new food every few days in case an allergic reaction does occur.

So, put a tarp on the floor and enclose yourself in a haz-mat suit!.  It’s time to squish bananas, puree carrots and get ready to have unrecognizable glops of goo everywhere! And of course, give our office a call if you have any questions at all!