Introducing your baby to solid foods can seem like a daunting task. For starters how do you even know when a child is ready? Making the jump to solid foods is an important step in making sure your baby is getting the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. For those parents seeking assistance, our pediatricians and physician’s assistants have provided a few telltale signs to look out for and tips to help you and your baby make the adjustment to solid foods.
First, is your baby old enough? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies stick to breast feeding or infant formula until they are 6 months of age (though some babies are not able to get all their caloric needs from breast milk or formula and may be ready sooner). Babies should be able to sit in a high chair or feeding seat and be able to keep their head up before trying solid foods. If a baby opens his or her mouth or reaches for your food while you eat, they may be ready. The ability to move food from a spoon into his or her throat without pushing it out of his mouth is a good indicator as well. It’s important to remember that if your baby has never tried anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, this will certainly take some getting used to. If you try but your baby does not seem ready, don’t force it. Wait a week or so and try again.
Pick a feeding time when your baby is happy and not too hungry or tired. You can try to ease the transition by giving your baby very small amounts of solid food in-between small portions of breast milk or formula. Start with just one food first. This will help the baby adjust and give you time to keep an eye out for potential allergic reactions. We recommend introducing no more than 1 new food every 3 days. If your baby experiences diarrhea, rashes, or vomiting after trying a new food, consult one of the pediatricians of physician’s assistants at Children’s Wellness Center. Remember to try not to get too flustered, this is a gradual process.
As for which food your baby should try first, that’s really up to you. Simple types of pureed fruits and vegetables as well as infant cereals can usually be started between 4-6 months, though discuss with your Children’s Wellness Center pediatrician at your child’s 4-month checkup to get the best guidelines for your baby. Many babies are not ready to try solid foods until 6 months of age, so don’t feel rushed to start and enjoy the process as your infant is experiencing all these new tastes. Fruits, vegetables and single-grain baby cereals are a common choice for a baby’s first solid food. Make sure to confirm that the cereal you choose is made specifically for babies and fortified with iron. Infant cereals should only be made up with either breast milk or formula.
At your child’s 6-month checkup, you and your child’s healthcare provider can discuss introducing more allergenic foods (peanuts, nuts, eggs, fish, or shellfish) and finger foods. Baby foods made with meat and other proteins like beans can be safely introduced when your infant is around 6-9 months old.
It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating, so create a routine and stick to it. Instilling behaviors like sitting up while eating, resting between bites and stopping when full early on can help develop good eating habits for children as they grow. If you still have questions, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today. We are always happy to guide our patients. You can also visit our website patient portal under “Patient Info” for more helpful info and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news and updates.