Breast milk or formula is best for babies from newborn to several months old. Your pediatricians in Jacksonville’s 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers will help guide you in deciding when to start your baby on solid foods.
At about 4 to 6 months, your baby will probably be ready to start on some solid foods. It is around that time that the baby has acquired the coordination to move food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.
Generally, there are other signs that your baby is prepared for solids:
- Your baby can hold his head steady and upright
- Your baby can sit with support
- Your baby is mouthing her toys
- Your baby seems curious about what you’re eating
After talking with your caregivers at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, you can begin adding solid foods to the baby’s diet of breast mild or formula.
Baby cereal is your best first choice. Add 1 tablespoon of iron-fortified, single-grain cereal to 4 tablespoons of milk. Feed it twice a day with a baby spoon while your baby sits upright. As your baby gains more experience with the cereal, add more dry cereal in less liquid so the cereal becomes thicker.
At 4 months, fruits and vegetables can be added to the diet. At 9 months, white meat can be added (chicken/turkey), and red meat can be added at 12 months. Allow 3 to 5 days between each new food trial to observe for any reactions like diarrhea, rash or vomiting. If no reaction is present, proceed with other foods. Over time, if you are confident the baby is tolerating single foods, you may feed food combinations.
Finger foods chopped fine are the next step, and can be introduced at 8 to 10 months. Try chopped fruits, applesauce, vegetables, pasta, and cheese. Be cautious with meats to be sure they are finely chopped or pureed to prevent choking. By the time the baby is about a year old, he should be able to eat finely chopped table foods right along with the family meals three times a day.
Your baby will likely enjoy each step of his growing menu. Playing with the food is a normal stage in his development and is fun for him. Try introducing a baby cup at approximately 9 months to encourage weaning from the breast or bottle. Offer baby utensils at about the same time so the baby can learn to hold them and move his hand from plate to mouth.
Some Feeding Cautions
- Check with your baby’s pediatrician for advice before introducing eggs, fish, peanuts and other nuts to the diet.
- Offer juice after the baby is six months old. Make sure it is pasteurized, mild and 100% fruit juice. Read juice labels to ensure it does not have added sugar.
- Offer cow’s milk and honey only to babies older than the age of 1 year.
Most of all, make mealtimes and snack times fun and pressure-free for you and your baby. If you have any questions about introducing your child to solid foods, consult with your pediatrician to get answers. The experienced pediatricians at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers can help put your mind at ease.