As your baby grows, being a part of each milestone can be very exciting. Is it time for your baby to experience solid food for their first time? If your baby has been only enjoying the benefits of formula or breast milk, it may be time to venture into the realm of solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding for the first six months of a child’s life. Is it time for your baby to try solid foods, too? The Mayo Clinic offers some tips on transitioning your baby from a liquid-only diet.
Once a baby is about four to six months old, most are physically ready to begin eating solid foods to complement breast-feeding or formula-feeding. When a baby reaches about 4 months, they are able to develop better coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back of the throat to swallow. There are some other ways to determine that your baby is ready for solid food. If your baby can hold his/her up in a steady position, sit with support and is also showing a desire to eat food (leaning towards food at the table, opening their mouths) then it’s time to discuss with your pediatrician what the next steps should be.
During this time in your baby’s life, feeding them up to 32 ounces per day of formula or breast milk can continue. When introducing food, it’s best to start simple and feed your baby single ingredients and no sugar, salt or spices. It’s best to wait several days before trying a new food to ensure there is no allergic reaction. Once you know there is no adverse reaction, it’s ok to offer any of the new foods together.
When serving your baby pureed food, be prepared that they may reject it in the beginning. The taste will be new, and the texture is too. If your baby doesn’t seem to be interested in trying solid food the first time, it’s ok. Wait a week or so and try again. Talk to one of the pediatricians at Association of Childcare Physicians if the problem continues just to make sure the resistance isn’t a sign that something else may be happening. Most often, it’s just that your baby is reacting to trying something new.
What should your baby be trying when beginning to eat solid foods?
- Foods with iron and zinc are important to introduce in the second half of your baby’s first year. Foods that include iron and zinc include pureed meats and single-grain cereals.
- You can mix 1 tablespoon of single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal with 4 tablespoons of breast milk or formula. Try serving this with a tiny spoon once or twice a day after their bottle. Eventually, you can mix more cereal with less liquid.
- Single-ingredient pureed vegetables and fruits can also be introduced into your baby’s diet. Wait at least 3 days before introducing each new food.
- Once your baby is at least 8 months old, it will be easier for them to eat small portions of finely chopped finger foods like softer vegetables and fruits. Cheese, cooked meat, baby crackers and dry cereal can start to be introduced in the eight- to 10-month timeframe.
Some foods, like peanuts, eggs and fish, should be introduced when your child is a little bit older. It’s best to have your baby try any high-risk food at home instead of at a restaurant with an oral antihistamine accessible. If there’s no reaction, the food can then be introduced in larger quantities. Studies do show that early introduction to certain foods like nuts may decrease the risk of allergy to that certain food. Talk to your pediatrician about the best time to offer your baby certain foods that may cause an allergy.
There are some things that your baby just should not have: cow’s milk, honey, and juice before the age of 1 isn’t recommended. Chunks of hot dogs and grapes can also be a choking hazard for babies. Peanut butter and marshmallows are also difficult for a beginning “chewer” to eat, so make sure the foods you are offering have nutritional value and are also cut into small pieces to prevent choking.