Starting On Solid Foods

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Important Things to Know

This is supposed to be FUN!  Get out your camera!  Every baby is different, be prepared for trial and error.  Solids are in addition to breast milk or formula.

When do you start?

Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.  American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months.  Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, feeding seat, or infant seat with good head control.  Baby is watching you eat, reaches for your food and seem eager to be fed.

Before Starting

The most important thing to know is that you can only give your baby ONE new food every 2 to 3 days. This way if your baby has an adverse reaction (allergy), you will know which food caused it!

How do you feed your baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting with half a spoonful or less and talk to your baby through the process.  Your baby may not know what to do at first.  Your baby may look confused, roll the food around in mouth or reject it altogether.  You may need to give your baby a little breast milk or formula first, then switch to very small half-spoonfuls of food, and finish with more breast milk or formula.  Increase the amount of food gradually, with just a teaspoonful or two to start.

Do not make your baby eat if crying occurs or they turn away when being fed.  Go back to nursing or bottle feeding exclusively for a time before trying again.  Do not put baby cereal in a bottle because your baby could choke. It also may increase the amount of food your baby eats and can cause your baby to gain too much weight.

Which food should you give your baby first?

Traditionally, single-grain cereals are introduced first. However, there is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby.  We recommend trying yellow veggies, then green veggies, followed by fruits.  The order, however, is arbitrary.  Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this.

Baby cereals are available premixed in individual containers or dry, to which you can add breast milk, formula, or water.  Whichever type of cereal you use, make sure that it is made for babies and is iron-fortified.

When can your baby try other foods?

Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually introduce other foods.  Give your baby one new food at a time and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another.  After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting.  If any of these occur, stop using the new food.

We do not recommend introducing eggs and fish in the first year of life because of allergic reactions.

 Of Note:

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that if you make your own baby food, you need to be aware that home-prepared spinach, beets, green beans, squash and carrots are NOT good choices during early infancy.  They may contain large amounts of nitrates.  Nitrates are chemicals that can cause an unusual type of anemia (low blood count) in young babies.  Commercially prepared vegetables are safer because the manufacturers test for nitrates.  Peas, corn, and sweet potatoes are better choices for home-prepared baby foods.

When can you give finger foods?

Once your baby can sit up and bring their hands or other objects to their mouth, you can give finger foods.  To avoid choking, make sure anything you give your baby is soft, easy to swallow, and cut into small pieces.  Examples would be small pieces of bananas, well cooked pasta, well cooked finely chopped chicken, and well cooked, cut up pieces of yellow squash, peas, and potatoes.

If you want to give your baby fresh food, use a blender or food processor, or just mash softer foods with a fork.  All fresh foods should be cooked with no added salt or seasoning, with the exception of bananas.

Of Note:

  • Do not give your baby any food that requires chewing at this age.
  • Do not give your baby any food that can be choking hazards, including hot dogs (meat sticks), nuts and seeds, chunks of meat or cheese, whole grapes, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, raw vegetables, fruit chunks or candy.

Does my baby need water?

Healthy babies do not need extra water.  Breast milk and/or formulas provide all the fluids they need.  With the introduction of solid foods, water can be added to baby’s diet.

What about juice?

Babies do not need juice, especially younger than 6 months of age. If you choose to give your baby juice after 6 months of age, give only 100% fruit juice, pasteurized, and offer it only in a cup, not in a bottle.  Limit juice to no more than 4 ounces a day and offer it only with a meal or snack.

Too much juice can cause diaper rash, diarrhea, or excessive weight gain. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.  If you do, make sure it contains only water.

Good eating habits start early:

It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating—sitting up, taking food from a spoon, resting between bites, and stopping when full.   Encourage family meals from the first feeding.  Research suggests that having dinner together as a family on a regular basis has positive effects on the development of children.

Watch your child for cues that they have had enough to eat. Do not overfeed!