When and How to Begin Introducing Solid Foods to Baby
Trying new foods is a special experience at any age. But for baby’s weaning off breastmilk or formula, it is a whirlwind of textures and flavors. This is a fantastic time for you and your baby to experiment with new foods, slowly but surely working up to the same family meals over time. So, when can babies eat solid food, and what is the best way to introduce them? Keep reading to find out!
When to Wean
There are several factors that are important in determining the best time to start baby’s first solid food. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, during the first six months of life, your baby should be fed exclusively breastmilk or formula. But, this isn’t the only indicator of the right time for introducing solid foods to baby. You can be sure your baby is ready to start on solids when he or she is sitting up with little or no help, has good control of their head, and is opening their mouth while leaning towards their food.
When to Start
Most babies are able to begin eating solids at around 4-6 months of age. This is usually a good time to start baby on solids in combination with breastmilk or formula to wean off slowly. Continue feeding your baby with about 32 ounces of breastmilk or formula per day while integrating simple ingredients with no sugar or salt — one food at a time. Wait at least three days between each new food you introduce for babies.
Take it Slowly
Baby’s first solid food is a big and new experience for them. If they refuse the food at first, don’t worry and don’t force it. Keep trying over time until your baby is ready to accept it. If your baby refuses to accept food one week, try again a week later or once your little one starts reaching for it. If your baby is open to solids, let them decide when enough is enough. As long as your baby’s growth is appropriate, there is no need to push for more bites.
Be sure that your baby gets the iron and zinc that they need! This can be found in a variety of foods such as pureed meats and certain baby cereals. If you choose to opt for cereals, ensure that they are infant-friendly and fortified. Offer a variety of cereals that are single-grain and make sure to not solely use rice cereals as they pose a risk for exposure to arsenic.
Introducing solid foods to baby means learning what their bodies are happy to eat and what they’re not. Some of the most common foods that are known to cause allergies are fish and shellfish, milk, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts, soybeans, and wheat. It is possible that early introduction of these tricky foods can even prevent the development of an allergy in the future. So, take action by being prepared to introduce these new foods carefully. Be sure to have an antihistamine at hand in case allergic symptoms arise. Be sure to talk to your Coastal Kids pediatrician if you have a family history of food allergies, about the best way to handle introducing these foods to your baby.
Foods to Postpone
As you begin weaning, there are still a few things to stay away from. No juice, cows milk, or honey should be fed to your baby until after one year. Know that some foods pose a higher risk than others. Foods such as marshmallows, peanut butter, hot dogs, chunks of meat/cheese, chunks of fruit, raw veggies, grapes, nuts seeds, popcorn, and hard candy are all higher risk foods that should be avoided at first.
Although it can be a tricky process to start on a baby’s first solid foods, it is also a wonderful opportunity to help your little one explore the worlds of flavor and texture! If you have any questions or concerns, always be sure to discuss them with a doctor. Your Coastal Kids pediatrician is ready to offer you their wealth of health knowledge. Until then, bon appétit!