Baby Food: Introducing Solids to Your Baby's Diet

When Do I Start Introducing Foods to My Baby?: The Best Time to Introduce Solids to Your Children
For most mothers, a good time to start introducing solids is around the six-month mark (if you've been breastfeeding exclusively), but it can start as early as four months. Until your baby reaches six months, there is no need for solid foods as breast milk contains all the nutrition your baby needs to grow. Look to your baby for cues that he's ready to start eating baby food.

Signs Your Baby is Ready to Eat Solids

Watch for the following signs that indicate that it's a good time to start introducing your baby to solids:

  • hold up your head : a baby needs to gain head control and must be able to keep his head upright without wobbling to prepare for eating solids
  • sitting upright : the head isn't the only thing your baby needs to be able to control; being able to sit up with your support is also key
  • extrusion reflex : there is a reflex to automatically push anything solid out of the mouth with the tongue in order to protect a baby from gagging; around 4-6 months of age, your baby loses this reflex and signals they are ready to start eating
  • chew, baby, chew : something else has been happening in the mouth-as your baby's digestive system matures, his mouth automatically begins practicing chewing motions; you'll also notice that he's teething at about this time (around 4-7 months)
  • growth spurt : your baby grows quickly in the first few months and by the time he hits 15 pounds (double his birth weight), he's ready to start eating baby food; this physical development will be paired with a growing appetite
  • mental preparation: it's not only the physical signs you should be watching for when starting baby on solids; be alert for signs that he's mentally and emotionally prepared to eat, such as showing a curiosity about the foods that you eat

How To Introduce Healthy Solid Foods to Your Baby's Diet
It is generally advised that parents follow some loose recommendations in the order and type of food they give their infant.

age in months food amount
1-6 exclusive breastfeeding suggested let infant decide when to stop feeding
4-6 rice cereal: usually doesn't cause food allergies and replenishes your baby's depleted iron stores start slowly, introducing one teaspoon of cereal with several teaspoons of breast milk; one to two feedings
6-8 fruits and vegetables: such as peas, carrots, and pears again start slow, feeding two teaspoons at one sitting and working up to two tablespoons at two or three sittings
8-12 finger foods: because your baby has now developed his finger grasp, let him practice by giving him finger foods such as soft fruits, macaroni or chunks of cereal let your child decide how much they want and provide a variety of finger foods; make sure finger foods are very small so that your child won't choke
12-24 table foods: you may still be supplementing meals with breast milk or formula, but ensure that your child is getting all the nutrients she needs regardless; include foods from five food groups, such as yogurt, chicken, grain dishes, vegetable frittatas, etc. each child is different and will choose for themselves when they are satiated

Feeding Tips for Young Children
  • remember to use small, soft (rubber) tipped spoons when feeding your baby, as regular spoons can cause pain to your babies' gums
  • babies naturally prefer sweet foods, therefore when introducing fruits and vegetables, start with veggies and eventually start using fruits as a dessert
  • once your baby is able to, let her feed herself as this gives her a sense of autonomy
  • never use punishment when meal times isn't going the way you want it to, this could put your baby on edge and make it harder to feed her
  • make mealtime enjoyable and make it a family affair: start practicing your airplane sounds
  • ensure your baby gets proper nutrition by being a good example yourself; preparing healthy meals for the whole family even when your children are still babies prepares them for a lifetime of healthy eating habits and will help learn about important nutrition facts. Limit your baby's diet of saturated fats, like fried foods and too much refined sugar, such as candy.
  • Remember to avoid foods that can pose a choking hazard to small children, like popcorn and seeds, as well as foods that can cause an allergic reaction like peanut butter. These foods should be avoided during the first year of a baby's life. For more information on food allergies and your child, click here.

Remember that when you start introducing solids to your baby, their stool will lkely change, becoming stronger in odor and less watery in consistency.

Happy feedings!