Introduce Your Baby to Solid Foods

Edited by Yuliya, Doug Collins, Eng

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Is your baby ready for solid foods?

Babies are generally ready to start eating solid foods at around 4 to 6 months. Aside from their age, there are a number of ways to tell if your child is ready to try eating solid food. Consult with your doctor and consider adding solid food to your baby's diet if she seems ready.

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Your baby might be ready to try solid foods if he:

  • Can hold his head up without support.
  • Can sit straight - with support, or in a high chair.
  • Seems hungry even after his usual amount of breastmilk or formula.
  • Is showing interest in, or trying to take your food.
  • Is gumming things (babies do not need teeth to eat!)
  • Doesn't push food back out with his tongue.

What solid foods should your baby start with?

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Once you decide to give solid foods a go, you have a wide range of options to choose from. You can make your own purees, or use all natural baby food. Some recommendations for introducing baby food are:

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  1. 1
    Baby cereals like rice and oatmeal mixed with breastmilk or formula
    .
    Start with a very liquid mixture, mostly milk, and as your baby becomes more confident and comfortable with it, gradually decrease the amount of liquid you use.
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  2. 2
    Baby food or puree mixed with breastmilk or formula
    .
    The same concept applies as in the above step: start liquid and make the mixture thicker over time. Eventually you can leave out the liquid altogether.
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  3. 3
    Mild flavored food purees
    .
    Start with orange or green fruits and vegetables like squash, apple, green peas.
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  4. 4
    Once your baby is comfortable with eating purees, add some texture
    .
    Try purees with soft chunks of the fruit or vegetable, like peaches or zucchini.
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  5. 5
    Eventually, you can start giving your child soft finger food
    .
    Soft fruit and vegetable chunks work well, as do potato cubes or well-cooked macaroni.
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What to expect the first time you give your baby solid food

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You've prepared the perfect delicious puree and are ready to give solid food a try. There are some things you should keep in mind before you start:

  1. 1
    Feed baby breastmilk or formula first
    .
    A hungry baby won't be receptive to new experiences.
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  2. 2
    Choose a time when your baby isn't tired or fussy
    .
    Mornings or after nap time work well.
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  3. 3
    Choose a comfortable place for your child to sit
    .
    This can be anywhere that your baby can sit up comfortably, like a booster seat, high chair, or even a bouncy seat.
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  4. 4
    Don't push your baby to keep trying if she doesn't seem interested
    .
    If he isn't getting the hang of it, don't force him - try again another day.
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  5. 5
    The first few spoon-fulls may be pushed back out, or cause slight gagging
    .
    This is normal in the beginning, but if your baby keeps gagging or spitting the food out, she might not be ready yet.
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  6. 6
    If your child doesn't want to eat the food, let him interact with it (touch, smell, etc)
    .
    The first few feedings are essentially practice sessions.
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  7. 7
    Let your baby tell you when he's done
    .
    If he stops being interested or starts playing more than eating, he might have had enough. Don't worry about him not eating "enough" - at this point he's still getting all the nutrients he needs from breastmilk or formula.
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  8. 8
    Be prepared for a mess!
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Next steps

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Here are a few more useful things to know as you and your child enters the exciting world of solid food!

  1. 1
    Start by feeding baby solids once a day, and gradually increase the frequency to 3 times a day.
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  2. 2
    Baby still needs breastmilk or formula through this period
    !
    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until around age 1, while the World Health Organization lists the preferred age to wean as 2 years. Ultimately, it's up to you and your baby when the right time to wean is. Always consult your baby's pediatrician on important changes like weaning.
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  3. 3
    If your baby refuses all the purees you're giving her, there's a chance she simply doesn't like the texture
    .
    Keep trying different flavors, but when he becomes good at not gagging or pushing food out, try introducing foods with some texture. For instance, try mashed fruits or vegetables instead of blended.
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  4. 4
    If your baby doesn't finish all her food you can always freeze it
    .
    Some parents make food in advance and freeze it in ice cube trays. When ready to eat, simply thaw 1 or 2 and serve!
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  5. 5
    When your child masters vegetables and fruit you can try adding proteins like pureed chicken or tofu.
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  6. 6
    Give your baby 2-3 days between new foods to make sure he's not allergic
    .
    Don't introduce new foods before bedtime - if baby's tummy reacts badly to it, or he's allergic, he'll have trouble sleeping.
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Additional notes

  • Some parents worry that giving their baby fruit will give them a sweet tooth and make them picky eaters, but there's no evidence of this.
  • The order you introduce types of food to your child does not seem to matter, according to experts. Most start with rice baby cereal because it's the gentlest on young stomachs, then move on to other foods, but you can start from oatmeal or another cereal just as well.
  • In the past, experts believed that allergens like peanuts and strawberries should not be given to kids until 1 year old, but now doctors say that giving your kid allergens early on actually makes them less likely to develop allergies. Whichever you decide, take extra care if you have a history of food allergies in your family. Only give a small bit and watch the baby closely.

Sources

Images:

  • Böhringer Friedrich - Wassermelone, Böhringer [1]
  • ParentingPatch - Baby Food Shelves at Kroger [2]
  • Ravedave - Baby eating baby food [3]
  • ParentingPatch - Blueberry and Cherry Baby Food Cubes [4]

Information:

  • Baby Center - Introducing Solid Food [5]
  • Mayo Clinic - Solid Food: How to Get Your Baby Started [6]
  • Healthy Children - Switching to Solid Food [7]
  • Some tips from parents on the Baby Center community [8]

Other:

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Baby & Toddler

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Yuliya

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