Rice, oatmeal, or barley? What baby cereal or other food will be on the menu for your baby’s first solid meal? Have you set a date?
At this point, you may have a plan or be confused because you have received too much advice from family and friends with different opinions.
Here’s information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help you prepare for your baby’s transition to solid foods
When can my baby start solid foods?
Remember that the ability to be ready depends on each child and their rate of development.
- Can they keep their head up? Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, eating seat, or infant car seat with good head control.
- Do they open their mouth when food is approached? Babies can be ready by watching you eat, reaching for their food, and appearing eager for you to feed them.
- Can your baby bring food from a spoon to their mouth? If you offer a spoon of rice cereal and the baby pushes it out of his mouth and it lands on his chin, he may not be able to bring it to the back of his mouth to swallow it. It is normal. Remember that they have never eaten anything thicker than breast milk or formula before. It may take time to get used to this new, more mushy food. Try diluting it the first few times. Then gradually thicken the texture. It is also advisable to wait a week or two after the first couple of refusals and try again.
- Are they old enough? Generally, when babies reach twice their birth weight (usually around 4 months) and weigh around 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
NOTE: The AAP recommends l mothers milk or baby formula as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When adding solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue to breastfeed or bottle-feed for at least 12 months. You can continue breastfeeding after 12 months if you and your baby wish. Talk to your child’s doctor about any supplements such as vitamin D and iron During the first year.
How do I feed my baby?
Start with a half tablespoon or less and talk to your baby during the process (“Look, do you see how yummy this is?”). Your baby may not know what to do at first. They may appear confused, wrinkle their nose, play with food in their mouth, or reject it altogether.
One way to make eating solid foods for the first time easier is to give your baby some breast milk or formula first. Then give a very small half tablespoon of food and finish with more breast milk or formula. This will prevent your baby from getting frustrated when he is very hungry.
Don’t be surprised if most of the first solid food meals end up on your baby’s face, hands, and bib. Gradually increase the amount of food, starting with just a teaspoon or two. This allows your baby time to learn how to swallow solids.
If your baby cries or turns away when feeding, do not force him to eat. Re-breastfeed or bottle exclusively for a time before trying again. Remember that starting solid foods is a gradual process, and initially, your baby will continue to get most of his nutrition from breast milk or formula.
NOTE: Do not put baby cereal in a bottle because your baby could suffocate. It can also increase the amount of food your baby eats and can cause him to gain too much weight.
When can I give my baby food to eat by hand?
Once your baby is able to sit up and put his hands or other objects in his mouth, you can give him finger foods to help him learn to feed himself.
To avoid choking, make sure everything you give your baby is soft, easy to swallow and cut into small pieces.
Some examples of these foods are small pieces of banana, scrambled eggs, well-cooked pasta, well-cooked chicken cut into small pieces, yellow squash, peas or potatoes well cooked and cut into small pieces.
At each of your baby’s daily meals, they should eat about 4 ounces or the amount of food in a small jar of strained baby food. Limit foods that are prepared for adults. These foods often contain more salt and other preservatives.
If you want to feed your baby fresh foods, use a blender or food processor or simply puree softer foods with a fork. All fresh foods must be cooked without adding salt or seasonings. Although you can feed your baby raw (pureed) bananas, most other fruits and vegetables should be cooked until soft.
Refrigerate all unused foods and watch for any signs of spoilage before giving them to your baby. Fresh foods are not bacteria-free, so they will spoil sooner than foods in a can or jar.
NOTE: Do not give your baby any food that requires him to chew at this age. Do not give your baby any food that could put him at risk of choking (suffocation), including hot dogs, nuts and seeds, pieces of meat or cheese, whole grapes, popcorn, pieces of peanut (or peanut butter), raw vegetables, pieces of fruit, like pieces of apple, and no hard or sticky sweets/candies.
What changes can I expect after my baby starts solid foods?
When your baby begins to eat solid foods, his stools (poop) will become more solid and variable in colour.
Due to the added sugars and fats, they will also smell stronger. Peas and other green vegetables can turn your babies poop a dark green colour; beets can make it turn red (beets sometimes make urine red too).
If your baby’s food is not strained, his stools may contain pieces of undigested food, especially pea or corn pods and the skins of tomatoes or other vegetables. This is all normal. Your baby’s digestive system is not yet mature and needs time before it can fully process these new foods. However, if the stool is extremely soft, watery, or mucusy, this could mean that the digestive tract is irritated.
In this case, reduce the number of solids and introduce them again more slowly. If the stools are still loose, watery, or mucusy, talk to your child’s doctor to find out why.
Should I give my baby juice?
Babies don’t need juices. Babies under 12 months should not be given juice. After 12 months of age (up to 3 years of age), you could give only 100% fruit juice and no more than 4 ounces a day.
Offer the juice in a cup, not a bottle. To help prevent tooth decay, do not use a bottle. Juice reduces your babies appetite for other, more nutritious foods, such as breast milk, formula, or both. Too much juice can also lead to diaper rash, diarrhea, or excessive weight gain.
Does my baby need water?
Healthy babies don’t need extra water. Breast milk or formula will give your baby all the fluid they need. However, you can offer a little water when you start solid foods. Use a sippy and limit water to no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) a day.
Also, small amounts of water may be necessary on very hot days. If you live in an area where the water contains fluoride, drinking water can also help prevent future tooth decay.
Good eating habits start early
It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating: sitting down, scooping food, resting between bites, and stopping when he is no longer hungry. These early experiences will help your child learn good eating habits throughout his life.
Encourage family meals from the start. When you can, the whole family should eat together. Research suggests that eating regularly as a family has positive effects on children’s development.
Remember to offer a good variety of healthy foods that are rich in the nutrients your child needs. Watch your child for signs that he has had enough to eat. Don’t overfeed it!
If you have any questions about your child’s nutrition, including concerns about whether your child is eating too much or too little, speak with your child’s doctor.
Transitioning your baby to solid Food – Any other tips?
Do you have any other tips or tricks when you transitioned your own baby to solid food?
Share them with our other new moms in our comments below.