Introducing your baby to solid foods!
Breast milk or formula is the only food your newborn needs, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months after birth. So how do you know if your baby is ready for solid foods?
By ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to be introduced to solid foods in addition to their breast-feeding or formula-feeding. This is typically the time that babies begin to develop the muscles or strength to move solid food to the back of their mouth for swallowing.
Signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods:
- Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
- Can your baby sit with support?
- Is your baby mouthing his or her hands or toys?
- Is your baby interested in what you’re eating?
If you answer yes to these questions and your pediatrician concurs then you can begin supplementing your baby’s breast-feeding or formula feeding diet.
How to start introducing solids to your baby:
Start simple! Baby cereal basics: Mix 1 tablespoon of a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal with 4 tablespoons (60 milliliters) of breast milk or formula. Don’t serve it from a bottle. Have your baby sit upright and offer the cereal after a bottle or breast-feeding. Use a small spoon once or twice a day. As your baby starts to get the hang of eating runny cereal, start mixing in less liquid and start increasing the amount you offer. Offer a variety of single-grain cereals such as rice, oatmeal or barley.
Next add vegetables and fruits. Slowly begin introducing single-ingredient solids as food purees that contain no sugar or salt. First start out with vegetables and then offer fruits. It is recommended to wait three to five days between each new food. The reason is if your baby has a reaction — such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting — you’ll know the cause. After introducing single-ingredient foods, you can offer purred foods in combinations. You can even make your own pureed foods and freeze them. I used an ice cube tray. Easy and perfectly portioned.
8 months to 10 months try offering finely chopped finger foods. Some examples are as soft fruits, vegetables, pasta, cheese, well-cooked meat, baby crackers and dry cereal. As your baby approaches age 1, offer your baby three meals a day, with healthy snacks and with mashed or chopped versions of whatever you’re eating.
What if my baby refuses his or her first feeding?
This is not unusual. Babies often reject their first servings of solid foods because the taste and texture is new. Don’t give up. If your baby refuses the feeding, don’t force it. Try again in a few days. If the refusal continues, talk to your baby’s doctor to make sure the resistance isn’t a sign of a problem.
What about juice?
Be careful with how much juice you give and what kind. Too much juice might contribute to weight problems and diarrhea. Sipping juice throughout the day or while falling asleep can also lead to tooth decay.
If you offer juice, wait until your baby is at least 6 months or older. Make sure the juice is 100 percent fruit juice. Juices containing vitamin C might improve your baby’s absorption of iron.
What solids are not okay to give your baby?
- Don’t offer cow’s milk or honey before age 1. Cow’s milk doesn’t meet an infant’s nutritional needs and can increase the risk of iron deficiency. Honey might contain spores that can cause a serious illness known as infant botulism.
- Don’t offer foods that can cause your baby to choke. Only offer these foods if they are cut up into small bites or pieces: hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw vegetables, or fruit chunks. Also, don’t offer hard foods that can’t be cut up but are a potential choking hazard are: seeds, nuts, popcorn and hard candy.
Hope you found these tips helpful! Remember to enjoy the messy moments with your child as they learn all these new tastes and textures! For a handy reminder off the do’s and don’ts I created a Baby Feeding Chart Magnet! Great baby shower gift for the new mom or grandparent!
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