For the first few months, breast milk or formula is all the nutrition your baby needs. Before you know it, your baby will be ready for solid foods. You are likely asking yourself how and where to start. Be sure to check with your pediatrician and come up with a plan together prior to starting solids.
The recommended age to introduce solids is 4-6 months, depending on when your baby is showing signs of being ready. Below is a list of signs to look for to determine if your baby is ready.
• Head control
• Able to sit with support
• Loss of tongue-thrust reflex (your baby must stop using his or her tongue to push food back out)
• Interested in what you eat
• Doubled birth weight
Once your baby has met these readiness signs, let the messy eating fun begin! It’s traditional to start with a single-grain cereal, rice being the most common. You can mix the cereal with breast milk or formula, starting very diluted and gradually thickening as your baby gets more used to it. Start off by with your baby solids once per day, and expect very little to actually make it into his or her tummy.
Once your baby is doing well with the cereal, start introducing fruits and vegetables. Some pediatricians recommend offering a vegetable first, with the reasoning being that your baby may less likely prefer the sweeter fruits over the vegetables. Good first foods include sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, avocado, apples, bananas, and pears. Start with these being very diluted, either by purchasing the jarred stage 1 food, or adding plenty of liquid to homemade baby puree. As your baby gets better at eating, gradually thicken the food (by buying stage 2, adding less liquid, or adding baby cereal as a thickener).
At this point, you should offer one new food at a time. In the event your baby may develop an allergic reaction to certain foods, wait 3-4 days before offering another new food so that you would be able to pinpoint the food causing the reaction.
Depending on the age you start solids, and how your baby is doing with the solids, at about 6-7 months your baby should be eating 2 meals a day and by 8 months eating 3 meals per day. Continue to breastfeed or formula feed your baby.
• Use a small soft spoon to feed your baby. Consider also giving your baby his or her own spoon and bowl to explore while you are feeding.
• Scoop out a small serving in a separate bowl to avoid contaminating what doesn’t get eaten.
• Wait for your baby to open their mouth rather than force feeding.
• It may take 10 offerings before your baby is willing to eat a certain food. Don’t push, but do continue to try again another time.
• Feed your baby at the table with the whole family. Your baby will enjoy being included.
• Keep in mind that your baby’s stool will become more solid and vary in color.