Sometime between four and six months, your baby may be ready to have her first taste of solid food. It is believed that delaying the introduction of solid foods may be of benefit to babies. For example, it gives the gastrointestinal tract time to mature, it may help prevent future allergies from developing, and it gives the baby time to develop the proper gross motor control needed to feed successfully. When you and your doctor think your baby is ready, start with a one-ingredient infant cereal such as rice, barley or oatmeal. Mix only a few teaspoons to offer at a time. By six to eight months most babies have acquired some teeth and may be ready for strained, mashed or finely chopped vegetables and fruit.
Since babies prefer sweeter foods, introduce the veggies first. Put a small amount into a bowl to feed the baby and discard any leftovers. If you feed directly from the jar, any leftovers should also be thrown out. Gradually increase the serving sizes. Introduce one item over the course of a few days to watch for any reactions that may signal an allergy. If you have suspicions, remove that item from the baby’s food list and see what happens. Most babies at this age are receptive to using a “sippy” cup and will take either juice, breast milk, infant formula or water from it. By 8-12 months most babies find feeding themselves a newly acquired skill. Now is a great time to introduce finger foods and protein-rich foods. Cubed meats, cheeses, fish and egg yolk are good starters. Egg whites shouldn’t be given until after a baby’s first birthday to help prevent allergies. Honey should NEVER be fed to a child under a year as it may contain botulism spores and could prove to be fatal. After your baby’s first birthday, whole cow’s milk may be introduced. Lower-fat varieties shouldn’t be used until after the second birthday, as babies need the extra fat to help the brain develop.
Guidelines for Introduction of Solid Foods:
1. For 4-6 Months Kid
- Iron-fortified infant cereal: rice, barley, oatmeal, soy
- Use breast milk, infant formula or water to moisten the cereal.
- Infants can eat and swallow semi-solid food from a spoon. Adding solids earlier does not help infants sleep through the night and may limit their growth.
- Some infants may not be satisfied by breast milk or infant formula alone between 4 and 6 months.
- Cereal provides a dietary source of iron to avoid depletion of baby’s iron stores.
- Introduces a new texture and eating from a spoon.
2. For 6-9 Months Kid
- Start with pureed vegetables, then pureed fruit. This provides a dietary source of vitamins, minerals and energy.
- Pureed meat, fish, poultry may be added around 7-8 months to introduce new food flavors and start good eating habits.
- Pureed well cooked legumes (beans, peas, lentils) may also be added; provides additional protein, vitamins and minerals for rapid growth.
- Lumpy textures may replace pureed foods around 7 months; this encourages chewing when teeth erupt.
- Mashed egg yolk may be introduced (not egg white).
- Dried toast, melba toast, rusks, thick bread sticks are good for teething.
- Fruit juice may be given when baby is drinking from a cup to introduce fluid but not to replace breast milk or infant formula.
3. For 8-12 Months Kid
- Mashed “family” foods without added sugar, butter, margarine, salt or other seasonings; this provides a dietary source of vitamins, minerals and energy.
- Finger foods, such as peeled soft fruit pieces, cooked vegetable pieces, dry toast or mild cheese. This introduces texture of foods other than smooth puree.
- Delay introduction of egg white until 12 months. (Earlier introduction might cause an allergic reaction)
- When baby is 9 months old, offer healthy snacks between meals. At 12 months you can introduce whole cow’s milk to your baby.