How To Introduce Your Baby To Solid Food
Making the leap from breast milk or formula to solids should be a shared and enjoyable experience, but your child should also understand that meals are not playtime.
Use this as a rule of thumb on what to feed your baby and when during three developmental stages:
- Stage 1 : Start with purees and begin with one to two tablespoons at a feeding.
- Stage 2 : At this stage, you can give your child thicker-consistency purees, and increase the volume to two to four tablespoons at a feeding.
- Stage 3 : At this stage, you can slowly replace purees with soft, chewable chunks of food, and offer your baby more finger foods that they can pick up and feed themselves.
For children who are slower to show interest in solid foods, have a strong gag reflex or immature chewing skills, eating solid foods may come a little later, and thats OK. Talk to your childs pediatrician if you have concerns.
Other tips to ease the transition as you teach your baby to eat solids:
While its recommended for parents of children at any age, knowledge of CPR can help boost parents peace of mind at mealtime.
What Are The Signs Of A Food Allergy In Babies To Look Out For
While food allergies are relatively common in babies , they do need to be taken seriously. Babies’ reactions to food can range from gassiness, diarrhea or mucus in the stool to vomiting and rashes . Other symptoms include a runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing that doesn’t seem to be due to a cold and unusual wakefulness or crankiness, day or night.
If you think your baby may be allergic to something you’ve fed her, speak to your pediatrician before offering it again. It’s especially important to check in with your doctor if your baby seems to react to almost every new food you offer, or there’s a history of allergies in your family.
What If Your Child Refuses To Eat Food
Its very common for babies to avoid solid food. They may not like the texture or havent developed the skills to push the food into their throat. It is very important not to force the baby to eat. Make sure you feed her plenty of milk.
Encourage your baby to touch and play with the food. It will get them used to the texture and shape of the food. Allow them to interact with the food. The more they do, the more comfortable they get with the food and the closer they are to eating it. Give them time to get acclimatized to the feel of a spoon. Babies will fling food everywhere, it doesnt mean they dislike the food, It just means they are messy.
When the baby is at least tolerating the food on their hands show them how to take it into their mouth and taste it. Repeat several times. Once they eat from their hands, offer a spoon. Give them time, as eating, chewing, and swallowing are skills they need to learn. It does not come naturally to babies.
The physical coordination required to get the food into the mouth is a challenge for babies. The natural reaction is to push the food out with his tongue. So give your baby time to adjust.
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Tips For Starting Your Baby On Solid Foods
Go with the feeding method that feels right to you
Know that there are no studies showing that one feeding method is better than another, so go with the one that feels right for you and your family.
Whether you choose the traditional spoon-fed purees, or the baby led weaning approach, how your baby reacts to it and how comfortable you are is the best indicator that it is working or not! And know that you can switch techniques at any point.
For additional support, speak with your pediatrician about your decision.
At first, solid foods are not to replace breastmilk or formula
As you get started on this journey, know that introduction of solid food is complementary to breastmilk and/or formula feeding. Breastmilk or formula should remain a primary source of nutrients and calories up through most of the first year.18, 19
In the beginning, think of eating as a way for your baby to explore foods, tastes, and textures, rather than a way for them to get all their nutrients. This will allow you and your baby to set aside frustration and have more fun with the process.
No added salt or sugar
As with any feeding strategy, avoiding foods with added salt and sugar is key to your infants health as well as the foundation to building healthy taste preferences.20
Read more: Minimizing Added Sugar in your Childs Diet
Listen to your babys hunger and fullness cues
Feed your baby iron-containing foods
When To Introduce Potentially Allergenic Foods
In recent years, guidelines have been updated on when to introduce potential allergens including peanuts, eggs, and shellfish, so unless you have a family history of a food allergy, you can go ahead and introduce them soon after baby starts eating solids. In fact, research is showing that introducing these foods early can actually protect baby from developing an allergy. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
TIP: Thin unsweetened peanut butter with water to form a very thin Peanut Butter Puree until its about the consistency of regular yogurt and offer a very small amount on a spoon or spread on a toast stick.
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Feeding Your Baby: From 0 To 6 Months
Breast milk is the best food your baby can have during their first 6 months of life.
It’s free, always available and at the perfect temperature, and is tailor-made for your baby.
First infant formula is the only suitable alternative if you do not breastfeed or choose to supplement breast milk.
Other milks or milk substitutes, including cows’ milk, should not be introduced as a main drink until 12 months of age.
“Follow-on” formula is not suitable for babies under 6 months, and you do not need to introduce it after 6 months.
Babies do not need baby rice to help them move to solid foods or sleep better.
When using a bottle, do not put anything in it other than breast milk or infant formula.
Is My Baby Ready To Eat Solid Foods
How can you tell if your baby is ready for solids? Here are a few hints:
- Is your baby’s tongue-thrust reflex gone or diminished? This reflex, which prevents infants from choking, also causes them to push food out of their mouths.
- Can your baby support his or her own head? To eat solid food, an infant needs good head and neck control and should be able to sit up.
- Is your baby interested in food? A 6-month-old baby who stares and grabs at your food at dinnertime is clearly ready for some variety in the food department.
If your doctor gives the go-ahead but your baby seems frustrated or uninterested as you’re introducing solid foods, try waiting a few days or even weeks before trying again. Solids are only a supplement at this point breast milk and formula will still meet your baby’s basic nutritional needs.
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What Foods To Eat
Solid food for infants should start by six months. Introducing solid foods to a baby should be done gradually and carefully. Although it is good to eat a vast variety of foods, as a general rule, transition the baby to solid food with pureed food, then move on to mashed or strained food, and then to small pieces of finger food that the baby can chew. One of the first vegetables suggested is sweet potato.
When your baby is trying a food different from cereal, you can try baby food combinations. Mix some tablespoons of fruit or vegetables along with the cereal and see how the baby reacts. The food should be very soft so that baby can easily press it against the roof of their mouth with their tongue.
How Can I Avoid Raising A Picky Eater
There are some factors beyond your control. As I explain in this opens in a new windowevidence-based article about the origins of picky eaters, some individuals inherit traits that make them more resistant to eating new foods .
But parents can make a difference. As noted above, the flavors in a mothers diet make their way into her milk. And studies reveal that babies develop preferences for these flavors.
So breastfeeding may be one way to program your child to accept a wider range of foods.
Consistent with this idea, researchers have found that toddlers tend to eat more vegetables if they have a history of breastfeeding longer .
And the other important factor is exposing your baby to a variety of solid foods.
When researchers have tracked children over time, theyve found a correlation between early food experiences and later eating habits. Kids who are introduced to many different foods during infancy tend to eat a broader array of fruits and vegetables.
So its probably a good idea to resist offering your baby only a small number of favorite foods. Keep introducing your baby to new flavors and textures especially vegetable foods that infants may take longer to develop a liking for.
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Should I Offer Solids Before Or After Nursing
What were aiming for during the first year is to have solids complementing breastmilk, not replacing it. This means that when solids are introduced the breastfeeding pattern is not interrupted at all, but baby is fed solids in slowly increasing amounts as his appetite increases. Baby will be getting about the same amount of breastmilk as he gets older, with increasing amounts of solids on top of that.
I think the main point in the matter is maintaining breastmilk as babys main source of nutrition throughout the first year. This is important both to babys good nutrition and good health. The nutrients in breastmilk are particularly important for growth and development during babys first year. In addition, some of the health benefits of breastfeeding are directly related to the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding .
Nursing before the solids is a good way to help keep the transition to solids proceeding slowly so that moms milk supply is maintained and baby gets the breastmilk that he needs.
See also Sustained Breastfeeding, Complementation and Care by Ted Greiner, Ph.D.
How To Start Solid Food With Baby
Were happy to welcome Liza Huber as the newest member of our team of expertcontributors. Liza, of Sage Spoonfuls, is a homemade baby food connoisseur and advocate for healthy living.
Starting your baby on solid food is a fun and exciting time for both you and your little one. You are not only teaching your baby how to swallow food from a spoon, but you are also helping her develop a love of mealtime. While this is an exciting time, you may also have a lot of questions and some anxiety about this new venture, especially if its your first baby. Feeling this way is completely normal, but dont worry, by following some simple steps and the advice of your pediatrician, you cant go wrong.
When Is My Baby Ready For Solids?
Most babies are ready to start on solids between four to six months old, but every baby is different so please check with your pediatrician to determine your babys readiness. Personally, I started each of my four children on solids at five months old. Signs that your baby may be ready are: baby can sit up with support, baby can hold her head up and has control of her neck, baby shows interest in and possibly reaches for the food you are eating, baby has doubled his birth weight, baby is still hungry after a bottle feed.
What are the best first foods for my baby?
What texture should the puree be for this stage?
When is the best time of day to give my baby a solid meal?
How much do I feed my baby at this stage?
Homemade Baby Food vs. Store Bought
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What If A Baby Grabs The Spoon During A Feeding
Babies are smart and full of curiosity, so its understandable if they want to examine the implements were trying to stick in their mouths. Let your baby take the spoon and look it over. Meanwhile, you can continue the feeding with another spoon.
Does your baby try to grab that one as well? Some parents have found success by adding even more spoons to the mix one or more for the parent, and two for the baby. The idea here is to keep both of the babys hands occupied while you feed.
But you might also try handing your baby a spoon thats been loaded with food. Help guide the spoon to your babys mouth, or let your baby attempt it on his own.
Your babys behavior can be frustrating, and cause a lot of mess. But keep in mind: This isnt a feed-or-starve situation.
Your baby doesnt have to ingest much solid food during these sessions. They are mostly about learning. And if your baby is very keen to hold and use spoons, shes probably ready to learn self-feeding, which is a good thing. Allowing your baby to practice will hasten the day when she can eat independently.
How To Transition To Solid Foods
Initially, your baby will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula while you gradually incorporate solid foods. You should always feed solid foods to your baby after nursing, not before, so they fill up on breast milk and receive the nutrition they need. This will be the case until your baby is about a year old.
After a nursing session, you can feed them a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal such as rice cereal. Mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal with breast milk, formula, or water. Iron-rich puréed meat is also an option for your babys first solid food. Feed them with a small baby spoon, not a bottle, unless your doctor recommends it.
Never force your baby to eat if they cry or turn away when introducing them to solid foods. Just return to breast or bottle feeding exclusively and try again in a couple of days.
As your baby becomes more comfortable eating solid foods, you can gradually increase the amount of food you give them and introduce others, such as puréed fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. You may introduce one new single-ingredient food from any food group every 3 to 5 days. Make sure to watch out for any allergic reactions but dont avoid common food allergens, as recent studies show this can actually increase the risk of food allergies in your baby.
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Recipes For Every Stage Of Starting Solids
If youre ready to start solids with baby, or youre just curious what it looks like to do a mix of baby led weaning and purees, check out my Yummy Baby Food cookbook. It goes stage by stage with specific foods to start in each, with simple recipes and easy feeding tips.
Listen to a recent podcast episode to hear about some of the basics of BLW with our guest Megan McNamee, MPH, RDN, CLT, and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in pediatric nutrition who runs Feeding Littles.
Top 10 Tips For Starting Solid Food
May 19, 2020
Introducing food to your baby is excitingand nerve wracking! And while theres no right way to start your baby off on solid food, here are 10 tips to get you going:
Happy eating everyone!
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Find A Good First Food
At around six months of age your babys iron stores start to deplete and they need to start eating iron-rich foods to get iron into their diet. This is why it is recommended that your baby start on foods containing iron. Traditionally this has been fortified rice cereal because extra iron has been added and rice is very unlikely to cause allergies.
Some other iron-rich first foods are cooked pureed meat, chicken, fish, tofu, beans, legumes, lentils and iron-fortified. Also good first foods for baby are pumpkin, pear, apple, sweet potato, avocado, carrot and banana. If cooking vegetables, steaming is better than boiling as it retains all the nutrients.
You might like to add some apple, pear or mashed banana to their cereal to help them have a little more. However, dont add salt or sugar to their foods.
The current recommendation is that foods can be introduced in any order as long as iron-rich foods are included in babys first foods and theyre an appropriate texture for the babys stage of development .