4 months-1 year
Most babies are ready to eat solid foods between 4 and 6 months old. Although infants don’t need anything but breast milk until they’re 6 months old, some babies— those who have the most head control—are ready to start earlier. (Don’t believe the myth that feeding your baby solids early will help him sleep!) Some guidelines:
Start with iron-fortified rice cereal.
“It’s easily digested and has a low incidence of allergies,” explains Ashley B. Hotle, RD, LDN, a pediatric dietitian at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. “The fortifi ed iron will help your baby start building his iron stores.” A good ratio is 1 tablespoon of cereal to 1 ounce of fl uid (preferably breast milk). Always feed it to your baby from a spoon; do not add cereal to a bottle.
Wait three days between new foods.
In three days, if your baby shows no signs of allergy, you can try another kind of oats or barley. Allergic reactions include any of the following: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, blood in stool, irritability or skin rashes. By introducing new foods one at a time every three days, you’ll be able to pinpoint allergies or food sensitivities.
Offer veggies before fruits.
“If a baby is exposed to the sweetness of fruits first, she may not like vegetables the first time,” says Hotle. Good starter vegetables include green beans, sweet potatoes and peas. Eight-to 9-month-olds can start eating pureed meats.
Mix solids with breast milk.
A study in Pediatric Research found that breastfed infants showed increased acceptance of new foods when they were mixed with mom’s milk. Combine it with veggies, fruits and meats as well as cereal.
Avoid sugary foods entirely.
Infants less than 1 year old should not consume soda, juices or desserts.
Handle With Care
For safety, “Always observe your baby during a feeding and afterward,” says Antonio Cain, RD, MBA, a dietitian and program coordinator of the Healthy Behavior program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. And avoid offering your baby these for the first 12 months:
» Honey, which can cause infant botulism.
» Raisins, grapes (even if cut up), hot dogs (even if cut up), popcorn, candy, peanut butter, nuts and any food that requires chewing. All are choking hazards. To prevent choking, offer foods that dissolve in your child’s mouth.
» Common allergens, like dairy products, eggs, peanuts, nuts, wheat, soy and shellfish.