Introducing Solid Foods to an Infant

Winter Springs Pediatrician

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / Freedigitalphotos.net

Introducing your baby to solid foods is an exciting milestone for the whole family. It can also be a very nerve wracking and confusing time for new parents. When is the right time to start your baby on solid foods? What kind of food should you start with? How do I know my baby is ready for solid foods? It’s important to consult your doctor first and then follow some simple rules and guidelines to help you tend to your baby’s needs.

Is my baby ready for solid foods?

Breast milk or formula is the only food your newborn needs. However, around ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solids. It’s during this time that babies typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.

In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods such as:

  • Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
  • Can your baby sit up with support?
  • Is your baby mouthing his or her hands or toys?
  • Is your baby interested in what you’re eating?

If your baby begins to show signs of being hungry for more than what he or she is getting, after consulting your baby’s doctor, parents can begin supplementing their baby’s liquid diet with solids foods.

What foods should I start with?

Parents are advised to only introduce one food at a time, one week at a time, from the list below.

Baby cereal. A common first baby food is a single-grain, iron-fortified cereal such as rice cereal or oatmeal. These baby cereals have the advantage of boosting your baby’s iron intake, and they’re easy to digest. Just mix with a little baby formula, breast milk, or even water on occasion.

Vegetables. Offer single-ingredient foods that contain no sugar or salt, and wait three to five days between each new food. Start out by offering green vegetables, followed by orange and yellow vegetables. Good vegetables to start out with are green beans, peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.

Fruit. Fruits should only be instituted after vegetables have been incorporated into child’s diet. Recommended fruits to puree include apples, bananas, peaches, pears and avocados.

Pureed meat: Meat should be the very last item you introduce to your child. Meat can be blended using a food processor. Chicken, pork tenderloin, and turkey are all good meats you can start giving your child.

Offer finely chopped finger foods. Once a child can feed themselves, it is preferable to let them do that in a high chair with variety of foods cut into very small sizes. This has been shown to correlate with healthier diets later in childhood and less obesity. By ages 8 months to 10 months, most babies can handle small portions of finely chopped finger foods – soft fruits, vegetables, pasta, well-cooked meat, baby crackers and dry cereal.

What do I need to start?

  • Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon when you feed your baby to avoid injuring their gums. Start with just a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon.
  • A high chair or other secure seat that holds your baby upright to eat.
  • Plastic or other waterproof bibs, which are easy to rinse off.
  • Unbreakable plates and bowls that won’t shatter when they’re knocked off the high chair tray.
  • You may also want to introduce your baby to a sippy cup soon after you start solids.

What kind of food should I not give my child?

Cow’s milk. Cow’s milk doesn’t meet an infant’s nutritional needs – it isn’t a good source of iron and can increase the risk of iron deficiency.

Honey. Honey might contain spores that can cause a serious illness known as infant botulism.

Large pieces of food. Do not offer hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw vegetables or fruit chunks, unless they’re cut up into small pieces.

Citrus fruits. Some pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is 1 year old to introduce citrus fruits because the acidity can be irritating.

What’s next?

To learn more about introducing your baby to solid foods, visit our website or call our Winter Springs Pediatrician office at 407-335-4760 today.