When Do We Start Feeding Infants Solid Foods
As a result of feeding our young complementary foods, there does not appear to be a specific age for weaning in humans, and weaning is variable across cultures. In pre-industrial populations, complementary foods are usually started between 4 and 6 months and breast-feeding has completely ceased by 30 months however, in some cultures solids are started substantially earlier . In general, the more active women are in subsistence activities, the earlier supplementary foods are started however, there is variation that seems the result of the work women are expected to do .
What Is The Best Highchair For Baby
The most important things to look for in a highchair include an upright positionno leaning or tilting back whatsoeverand an adjustable footplate that supports your babys feet and legs so that their hips are at a 90 degree angle. It is also important to have a detachable tray so you can pull your babys chair up to the table. Watch our video here for the lowdown on highchairs.
Get My Free Printable: Learn To Eat Table Foods Cheat Sheet
There seem to be more questions than answers when youre under the daily stress of your baby or toddler not eating table foods. Not to mention all of the well-intentioned bad advice thats often given. Lets clear that up. Ive created a free 5 page guide that clearly lists the steps to teach your baby or toddler to eat table or finger foods, plus a FAQ guide for parents to ease their worries when their babies wont eat!
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Iron: Food Sources + Supplements
The first food introduced to baby should be rich in iron. Its an important nutrient, and one of the reasons for introducing solid food, to complement milk around 6 months of age!
If youre feeding iron-enriched infant cereals, you might find that your baby is sensitive to it and experiences constipation. One suggestion is to vary the food sources of iron: meat, fish, eggs, nut butter, beans, legumes, tofu .
If your baby is taking an iron supplement, talk to your doctor about potentially lowering the dose, and be sure to discuss the pros and cons of continuing to take the supplement. You will have to make some adjustments to ensure that your baby receives enough iron while avoiding constipation.
General Baby Food Timeline
Remember: this list consists of general guidelines. Every child is different, and every family has different eating philosophies. As a general rule, introduce one new food at a time, and wait a few days to make sure your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
- Four to Six Months: Start with soft foods and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, or peas. If you don’t want to purchase baby food, letting them suck on a banana can be a great early food. Single-grain cereals mixed with breast milk or formula are also good starter foods.
- Six to Eight Months: Try out meat and fish. The little soft meat sticks in a jar were a big hit with my kids. This is also a great age to enjoy any single-ingredient finger food, like avocado wedges or pear.
- Nine to Twelve Months: Keep on exposing your little ones to extra textures and flavors. The only foods to really avoid during the first year of life are honey, cow’s milk, and foods that could be choking hazards like whole grapes, uncut cherry tomatoes, popcorn, or nuts.
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What Are Signs My Baby Is Ready For Solid Food
To decide if your baby is ready for the big step into the world of solid foods, look for the following clues and then consult your doctor:
- Your baby can hold her head up well when propped to sit. Even strained baby foods should not be offered until then. Chunkier foods should wait until a baby can sit well alone, usually not until 7 months.
- The tongue thrust reflex has disappeared. Try this test: Place a tiny bit of baby-appropriate food thinned with breast milk or formula in your baby’s mouth from the tip of a baby spoon or your finger. If the food comes right back out again with that tiny tongue, and continues to after several tries, the thrust is still present and baby isn’t ready for spoon-feeding.
- Your baby reaches for and otherwise shows an interest in table foods. If she’s grabbing the fork out of your hand or watching intently and excitedly with every bite you take, that may be a sign that she’s hungry for more grown-up fare.
- Your baby is able to make back-and-forth and up-and-down movements with the tongue. How can you tell? Just watch carefully.
- Your little one is able to open wide. That way, food can be taken from a spoon.
Are Babies Digestive Systems Able To Handle Finger Food Im Told They Can Only Handle Purees
An infants digestive system is incredibly dynamic and undergoes several changes after birth and throughout the first year of life and beyond however, it is not fully understood.1011 In general, digestion starts in the mouth, continues in the stomach and small intestine, and concludes in the colon. There is no research to support that infants or young children can only digest pureed foods. While it has been shown among adults that purees and juice formations of the same food digest faster than the same food in solid form, even when chewed properly, this does not directly translate to improved nutritional absorption or outcomes.12
When an infant first begins their finger food journey, they swallow a minimal amount of solid food as they develop their oral-motor skills and remain nutritionally supported by human milk and/or formula. Regardless of how solid food is introduced , we know it challenges the infants digestive system, as evidenced by the change in color, smell, and stool texture. To this end, caregivers should not become instantly alarmed if they see a small chunk of undigested carrot, a hull of corn, or flaxseed in their childs stool as long as the child is growing appropriately. To date, there is no research to suggest that infants who follow baby-led weaning or a finger food first approach are more likely to experience symptoms suggestive of digestive problems such as increased reflux, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, food allergies, or poor weight gain.
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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.
Q What Should My Baby Drink With Their Solid Food
A. Its OK to give baby a little water with food, but not more than 4 to 8 ounces in a day, Dr. Prabhakaran notes. Babies still need formula and breast milk at this point.
But avoid juices. They can eat the fruit itself, but juices are not good, especially if they have some teeth, she says. The sugar in the juice may cause decay.
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How Do I Spoon Feed My Child
Introduce the spoon towards the front of the mouth. Babies who are learning to take solids sometimes will tongue-thrust the food out of their mouths. In a short time of practicing this will resolve.
Most children want to feed themselves with their fingers by 9 months of age, and this should be encouraged. At 12 months of age, most children do not need pureed baby foods. By 15 to 18 months of age, most children can feed themselves with a spoon and no longer need a parent’s help to eat.
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Food To Eat
Generally speaking, babies are getting enough to eat when they are able to sustain consistent periods of being content, alert, and playful peeing several times a day pooping daily or every few days energetically exploring their environment learning new skills and steadily growing.
In the first year of life, the primary source of nutrition should be breast milk or formula, which can be complemented by nutrient-dense solid food at around 6 months old. During this phase, remember that learning to eat solid foods takes time and babies will often continue to eat around the same volume of breast milk or formula. Just as we would not expect a baby who is learning to walk to be able to hike alongside us, we should not expect an infant who is just learning to taste, explore, and chew solid foods to actually eat those foods at first. Babies are incredibly good at regulating their appetites and communicating cues to parents that they are hungry or full.6 As long as you are offering your baby solid food two to three times a day and continuing to offer breast milk or formula feeds until around 12 to 15 months old, your baby should be getting enough to eat. If you have any concerns about your babys weight or growth, check in with your pediatrician.
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When Can I Start Giving My Baby Water
In their first few months, babies usually don’t need extra water. On very hot days, most babies do well with additional feedings. But you may want to offer your infant water, especially if your baby’s pee is dark or your baby pees less often than usual.
Once your baby is eating solid foods, you can offer a few ounces of water between feedings, but don’t force it. Water that is fortified with fluoride will help your baby develop healthy teeth and gums. If you live in an area with nonfluoridated water, your doctor or dentist may prescribe fluoride drops.
Reacting To Solids: The Poop May Change
Introducing baby to solids often means big changes in her poop. Feed her pureed carrots for dinner, and shell likely have a bright orange poop the next day! And finger-foods that are rich in fiber may pass right through her system and look the same coming out as they did going in.
Babys poop may look different after starting solids it may also stop altogether. Constipation is a common problem after introducing solids. After all, your babys only ever had breastmilk or formula introducing new foods is bound to be hard on his little system! You may notice that your babys poop becomes drier and more compact, or that he stops pooping altogether. He may also grimace and draw his legs up when pooping, and hell probably seem crankier and fussier than normal. If you notice these signs of constipation, try the following to get your baby pooping normally again:
- Offer more fiber-rich foods: Think pureed prunes! Peaches, apricots, pears, and beans are also good choices.
- Avoid binding foods: Avoid bananas, rice, and dairy products, as these can make constipation even worse.
- Offer more fluids: Offer the breast or bottle more frequently, and try to increase the ounces of fluid your baby drinks. You could also offer a few ounces of water or diluted apple juice .
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What Should I Know About Food Allergies When Introducing Solids
Although it was once common to delay giving a baby certain foods like eggs, seafood, nuts and some dairy in the hopes of staving off allergies, the AAP no longer recommends doing so since the data shows that holding off on certain foods does not prevent food allergies.
In fact, the AAP now says that introducing allergenic foods like peanut butter earlier in a child’s life between 4 and 6 months and certainly by 11 months actually reduces her chances of developing a food allergy. Just be sure you’ve successfully introduced a couple of other solids first, and be sure to introduce the foods one at a time at home .
How To Let Baby Self Feed Purees
I love offering purees on a preloaded spoon. To do this, the parent, puts some of the food on the spoon and hands it to baby. Then baby can bring the food to their mouth all by themselves. This gives you some of the same advantages of baby led weaning, but can be more comfortable for many parents.
Remember, you can mix what you offer, going back and forth between purees and blw finger foods, so you can offer the same food two different ways to let baby explore. The main goal is to avoid forcing baby to take more bites than they want to, which can sometimes happen with purees.
Baby eating peanut butter toast stick
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Signs That Baby Is Ready For Solids
Look for signs of developmental readiness when determining whether your baby is ready to start eating jar baby food. Pay attention to your babys tongue-thrust reflex.
This reflex prevents your little one from choking by sending a signal to the brain to push food out of the mouth with the tongue. Start jar food when the tongue-thrust reflex is gone or diminished.
Adequate head control is also an important developmental sign that your baby may be ready to start jar baby food. To safely eat solid food, an infant needs to have good neck and head control and have the ability to sit up.
Another sign that your baby is ready for solids is if he or she shows interest in food. Maybe your baby stares at your plate or grabs food from your hand.
Why Baby Wont Eat Solids Anymore
- Some teething babies wont eat While its not as common, some babies start off eating baby food and then suddenly stop. A frequent cause of this is teething, and some babies teethe for a very. long. time. If your babys teeth are swollen, red, and seem to hurt, then this is likely the cause. Try putting some teething gel on their gums 15-20 minutes before a meal. If you see an improvement, this is likely the culprit. Heres a natural teething gel I like.
- Going through a phase Babies may get a little bug or slight cold that we arent even aware of or have some negative experience with food that seemed too minor to us as the parent, but makes them leery of eating. If its the latter, some sensory sensitivities can develop if a baby goes for a while without eating any food. If this is the case for your baby, youll want to follow the steps below and focus on not pressuring your baby to eat. Its really important that mealtimes are a positive experience.
- Theyve outgrown baby food If your baby is later in their 7th month or older, they may just be sick of solid baby food and ready for the real deal table and finger foods. I know that seems scary and makes some parents nervous. Dont worry though, if you think this is why your baby suddenly wont eat solids anymore, then head to how to transition to table foods.
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Fluid: Water + Breastmilk/formula
Continue to offer breastmilk or formula, and introduce water with meals. It will help get things moving while teaching your child to drink from an open cup.
We recommend to introduce cows milk at around 9 months of age, so stick to breastmilk/formula during the transition between exclusively milk fed and established solid foods intake.
The fluid baby drinks ensures that their stool isnt too dry, which makes it easier to pass.
Baby Led Weaning And Choking
There are many parents who dislike this method of feeding because it often sounds like a baby is choking. And while there are surely some incidences of choking, whats more likely is that a baby will occasionally gag on a piece of food that gets into their mouth that they werent expecting.
But remember: Gagging is a sign that baby is doing what she needs to in order to move the food around in their mouth as they learn to eat. It usually sounds more dangerous than it actually is.
TIP: If the sound of gagging really freaks you out, youre not alone. Consider offering more preloaded spoons with purees to start your journey more slowly.
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Babies Gagging On Food Is Normal
Gagging is a completely normal reflex in infants, children and adults alike. Gagging is very common and will happen a lot in babys solid food journey. All babies gag in their eating journeyits one way they learn how to eat. The good news is that babies typically outgrow gagging after a couple of months of practice with various textured foods.
Babies often gag well before they start solids, when breast or bottle feeding. This typically occurs when baby either isnt properly latched, and the nipple triggers the reflex, or if the baby isnt ready to swallow milk for whatever reason. Some babies gag when moms letdown is too fast. Others gag when they need to catch their breath instead of swallowing. Many babies will gag on a pacifier or certain bottle nipples if they arent familiar with them. All of these gags occur because the brain is trying to protect the baby from swallowing an intruder, or something the baby isnt ready to swallow. This gag reflex typically lessens over the first few months of babys life when baby gets desensitized and learns to accept it without gagging. This occasional gagging at a young age does not seem to bother most infants.
Watch our video on gagging and all of the other normal, sometimes nerve-wracking things babies do while starting solids.
Cooper, 6 months, gags on applesauce.Ronan, 7 months, gags on a flattened blueberry, spits up some, and carries on eating.