For First Foods Anything Goes
Theres nothing magical about your babys first food. Dr. DiMaggios suggestion? Open your fridge and see what you have and make life easy.
An iron-fortified infant cereal, like oatmeal, mixed with a little breast milk or formula, is a popular first food. Pureed or mashed fruits or vegetables can work just as well, and if youre doing baby-led weaning, you might start with something like avocado or cooked carrots.
Introduce new foods one at a time, so that if your baby has an allergic reaction, youll know the culprit. Hold off on introducing common allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts, dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, sesame, shellfish and fish until your baby has tried a few other foods first, said Dr. David Fleischer, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. Pediatricians have traditionally recommended waiting three to five days between introducing new foods, but thats not necessary whats important is working toward a varied diet, Fleischer said.
Castle said she sometimes sees parents get into a rut of feeding just fruits, vegetables and grains, but variety is key. Getting your baby used to eating beef, poultry and other types of meat early on can be helpful, said Castle, because they tend to become pickier about meat later on. Meat also provides healthful nutrients, such as protein, fat, zinc and iron.
Are There Any Foods My Baby Shouldn’t Eat
There are some foods that are not suitable for infants, including:
- cow’s milk as their main milk drink from 6 to 12 months
- reduced-fat milk or unpasteurized milk and dairy foods
- whole nuts, popcorn, hard sweets, whole grapes, raw carrot, raw apples or other hard fruit and vegetables
- honey this can contain spores of botulism
- cordial, soft drink or sweet drinks
- tea, coffee or energy drinks
When Can Babies Eat Solid Food
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about the first six months. While each baby will grow and develop at their own rate, there are a few signs to look for to let you know your little one is ready to start solids.
It may be time to introduce solid foods if your little one can:
- Hold their head up and show good head control.
- Open their mouth when food comes their way.
- Move food from a spoon into their throat.
- Has roughly doubled their birth weight.
Be sure to check with your pediatrician prior to starting solids to get the go-ahead and talk through any questions or concerns you may have.
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How To Start Introducing Solids
Solid foods can be introduced in any order as long as they are iron-rich and the food is the right texture. Look for signs that your baby’s ready for solids.
There is no clear recommendation about the best time of day to offer first solids. But it can be helpful to give your baby solids after a milk feed, mid-morning, so if they’re unsettled, it’s less likely to impact their night-time sleep.
If you find your baby loves solid foods so much that they’re cutting back on their breastfeeds or bottle feeds, reduce the amount of solids you’re offering. Milk is still an important source of nutrition for the first 9 to 12 months of life.
What Should A Baby Drink When Trying Solid Foods
Dr. Openshaw recommends against giving babies juice unless directed by their doctor. Excessive juice can cause obesity, diarrhea, diaper rash, and tooth decay. Even juice diluted with water can have a similar impact, Dr. Openshaw says.
Babies do not need extra water. Babies younger than 6 months get all the fluids they need in breastmilk and correctly mixed formula. Dr. Openshaw does recommend that parents introduce water in a cup to a baby at age 6 months when they start to eat solid foods. A baby can practice drinking water from a sippy cup or straw cup all throughout the day. They may not drink a lot at first, but they will usually enjoy the process. This can set the stage for a lifelong habit of drinking plenty of water.
We are excited to offer the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens. To receive a vaccine, contact your CHOC primary care pediatrician to make an appointment.
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Your Babys Food Preferences
Every baby is different, and its fun getting to know what sort of food your baby likes. Some babies will devour solid foods as soon as theyre given them, while others prefer to have just breast milk or formula for longer. Some babies eat everything offered, and others have clear likes and dislikes.
Dont worry too much about your babys food preferences. Keep offering a range of nutritious foods so they can learn to enjoy a variety of food tastes and textures.
Why Can’t I Give My Baby Solid Foods Before 6 Months
Babies need to be developmentally ready to eat solid foods. Learning how to move food from the front of the tongue to the back of the mouth then swallow is a skill that needs practice.
Until 4 to 6 months of age, babies still have a ‘tongue extrusion reflex’ this means they push food out of their mouth with their tongue. Giving solids before 4 to 6 months can be a choking risk. Until they’re old enough, babies only know how to suck and swallow milk, not how to move more solid textures to the back of their mouth to be swallowed.
Giving solids before your baby is ready can also mean they fills up on solids and won’t drink the milk they need to grow and thrive.
Food Items To Limit Or Avoid
Hard, round and/or small foods such as, nuts, popcorn, raisins and nuts
These foods may cause choking for children less than 4 years of age
Honey before one year of age
Honey may cause infant botulism. See Health Canadas website for more information about honey and infant botulism.
Fruit juice and sweetened beverages
Your baby doesnt need juice. However, if you decide to give juice, wait until your baby is eating fruit and other foods. Limit the amount of juice your baby drinks to ½ to ¾ cup of 100 per cent pasteurized fruit juice. Offer the juice in an open cup. You do not need to dilute the juice.
Which Foods Should I Avoid
Foods that are more likely to cause allergies can be among the foods you introduce to your baby. These include peanuts, eggs, cows milk, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy. Waiting to start these foods does not prevent food allergies. Talk to your doctor if youre concerned about food allergies, especially if any close family members have allergies, food allergies, or allergy-related conditions, like eczema or asthma.
Infants with severe eczema or egg allergies are more likely to have allergies to peanuts. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child.
Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:
- bloating or an increase in gassiness
Get medical care right away if your baby has a more severe allergic reaction, like hives, drooling, wheezing, or trouble breathing.
If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don’t offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.
Babies shouldn’t have:
- foods with added sugars and no-calorie sweeteners
- high-sodium foods
- honey, until after the first birthday. It can cause botulism in babies.
- unpasteurized juice, milk, yogurt, or cheese
- regular cow’s milk or soy beverages before 12 months instead of breast milk or formula. Its OK to offer pasteurized yogurt and cheese.
- foods that may cause choking, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes, popcorn, and nuts
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How Should I Start Solids
When the time is right, you can start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with breast milk, formula, or water. Feed your baby with a small baby spoon. Dont add cereal or other food to a baby’s bottle because it can lead to too much weight gain. Let your baby practice eating from a spoon and learn to stop when full.
When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce others, such as puréed meat, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. Try one food at a time and wait a few days before trying something else new to make sure your baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
Foods that are more likely to cause allergies can be among the foods you introduce to your baby. These include peanuts, eggs, cows milk, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy. Waiting to start these foods does not prevent food allergies. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about food allergies, especially if any close family members have allergies, food allergies, or allergy-related conditions, like eczema or asthma.
Infants with severe eczema or egg allergies are more likely to have allergies to peanuts. Talk to your doctor about how and when to introduce these foods to your child.
When starting your baby on solids, avoid:
Also, do not give fruit juices to infants younger than 12 months old.
Breastmilk And Infant Formula While Introducing Solids
You should keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until at least 12 months.
When you start introducing solids, breastmilk or infant formula should still be the main source of your babys nutrition. Over the next few months, your baby will start having more solids and less milk or formula. The rate that this happens will vary.
Here are some signs that your baby is getting enough nutrition from both solids and breastmilk or formula during this time. Your baby:
- has plenty of wet nappies at least 6-8 wet cloth nappies or 5 very wet disposables in 24 hours
- is alert and mostly happy after and between feeds
- is gaining weight at about the right rate your child and family health nurse will weigh your baby at your regular check-ups.
From 12 months onwards, solids should be the main source of your babys nutrition. Your baby doesnt need infant formula after 12 months, but you can keep breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby like.
If solid food replaces breastmilk and/or infant formula too quickly, babies can miss out on important nutrition. If you have any concerns about your babys feeds or weight, talk to your midwife, child and family health nurse, lactation consultant or GP.
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How To Introduce Food Allergens To Babies
Dr. Openshaw also recommends introducing common food allergens such as eggs, peanuts and fish to babies early into their solid food transition.
Studies suggest that waiting until a babys first birthday to try these foods, which was recommended in the past, can make a baby more likely to develop food allergies, Dr. Openshaw says. Giving small amounts of foods such as scrambled egg or tiny rice-sized amounts of peanut butter has now been shown to decrease the likelihood of common food allergies.
For babies with strong family histories of food allergies, especially to nuts, parents should first discuss with their doctor whether to do this food trial for their baby. In some cases, a referral to an allergist or for testing may be necessary.
How Do I Prevent Choking When Introducing Solids
Here’s what to do to prevent choking when solid food is on the menu:
- Stay close. At this point, eating should be a spectator sport, with you closely watching every bite your baby takes.
- Start small. Cut food into pieces tiny enough that your baby can swallow them whole if she doesn’t spend any time gumming them .
- Get bigger slowly. As your baby gets used to eating pieces of soft, solid food , gradually move up from minced to chopped to small cubes.
- Keep the portions baby-sized. Place only one or two chunks at a time on the plate or tray so she doesn’t stuff in more than she can handle.
- Stay seated. Not you, but baby. Offer finger foods to your baby only when she’s sitting down not crawling, cruising or toddling around. Eating on the run isn’t just bad manners it’s unsafe for the inexperienced eater.
You also shouldn’t give your baby foods that won’t dissolve in the mouth, can’t be mashed with the gums or can be easily sucked into the windpipe.
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Plan The Feeding Schedule
At the start, solids can be offered once or twice a day. Parents can slowly increase the number of feedings over time.
Speak to your pediatrician about when it is appropriate to start solids, as there are developmental signs of readiness that youll want to wait for in order to safely introduce solid foods.
In the beginning, youll want to offer solids after offering breast milk or formula first. Your baby will still rely on breast milk or formula for most of his or her nutrition needs.
Solid foods are just for fun in the first few months! Since the baby wont be eating enough to contribute a lot to nutrition, the aim of feeding solid foods is just to introduce new flavors and textures to your baby in preparation for eating more as they get older.
How Much Should A 6 Month Eat
However much your baby wants to eat! Every baby is different and the beauty of practicing responsive feeding is that you FULLY allow your baby to take the lead. I know as a type A personality mama this is super hard to do at first.
I remember so wanting to take charge and make sure baby eats xyz amount. But that will only lead to miserable mealtimes and a baby who loses their innate ability to self-regulate. And if you have an older child, you may have come to realize that pressuring doesnt work.
The eating habits established early on can last a lifetime, so its really important that we focus on setting a strong foundation from the start.
So I highly encourage you to consider this time a learning experience, to recognize your babys hunger and fullness cues and to respond appropriately rather than coming to the table with the agenda of I need my baby to eat everything on this plate.
Most likely your baby will not eat much, if anything at all, at first, especially when taking the baby led weaning approach. But before you throw in the towel and think, what am I doing wrong?!, I always encourage parents/caregivers to keep their expectations in check.
These first days, weeks are all about building the skills and confidence necessary to self-feed and less about consumption.
Babies are so keen to a parents energy. Encouragement and support from their most trusted person is what they most need!
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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.
Your Babys First Solid Food
When your baby is ready, start with small spoonfuls of cereal or pureed vegetables, fruit or meat. Try one new food at a time. Try it for a few days to see how your baby does with it. After 6 months, you can give your baby real juice. But give no more than ¼ cup a day and mix it with water. Avoid juice drinks. They have added sugar.
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What If The Baby Makes Faces While Eating
What if a baby makes dramatic, negative facial expressions after tasting a particular food? Does this mean you should stop offering it?
Babies are notorious for making faces in reaction to new foods .
For example, in one study, researchers recorded the facial expressions of babies tasting pureed green beans for the first time .
These were the most common reactions:
- 95% of the babies squinted
- 82% waggled their brows
- 76% raised their upper lips
- 42% wrinkled their noses
In short, babies looked disgusted, and the more disgusted they looked, the more slowly they ate!
But heres the important point: They got over their initial dislike for green beans. It just took time.
After following an 8-day regimen of repeated feedings, the babies were eating three times as much pureed green beans as they had eaten during their very first experience.
But none of this means you should force your baby to eat. Thats not a good idea. Instead, hold a spoonful of the food up to your babys mouth until he or she has pushed it away. Then wait a bit, and try again, for a total of three tries.
First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
As much as we want to delight our babies with all kinds of foods, seeing too much food can be overwhelming for them. So keep it simple and always be sure to include an iron-rich food. Have fun exploring this new world of food through the lens of your baby!
I want to mention this again because its that important! Come to the table with No expectations. No agenda. Lots of smiles, encouragement, and curiosity.
Finally, rather than watching your baby, make yourself a plate, preferably the same foods as your baby, and enjoy your meal alongside your baby. Teach your baby how to feed themselves by SHOWING them.
Here are the exact meals I served to my baby during her first month of starting solids. Hope this provides you with some ideas! Simple. Well-balanced. Delicious!
I actually filmed EVERYTHING I made for her as well as my toddler, husband, and me from Day 1 to Day 84 in real time and turned them into an easy to access and follow program!
You are here because youre spending time researching everything you need to know to give your baby the best. I have a feeling youre spending a lot of hours googling, going to all the different sites seeking answers to your burning questions, gathering recipes, etc.
What if I handed you a complete roadmap that would show you through daily videos and photos of what foods and how to serve them to your baby AND the rest of the family at the same time? Everything you need to know all in one place.
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