Solids are usually added to your baby's diet at six months of age because that is when babies' natural stores of iron begin to deplete. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding, not giving your baby anything besides breast milk, for six months. Some babies' diets need to be enriched with iron fortified foods at six months of age. Signs that your baby is ready for solid food include:
- The ability to hold their head and neck up right.
- Interest in the food you are eating; baby may even grab food from your plate.
- The ability to keep food in baby's mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
Once your healthcare provider recommends starting solid foods, you should start with baby cereal.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of a single-grain, iron fortified baby cereal with 4-5 teaspoons breast milk or formula. Help your baby sit upright and offer the cereal with a small spoon once or twice each day.
- Once your baby learns how to swallow runny cereal, mix it with less breast milk or formula to make it thicker. If your baby is not interested, wait a week or two and try again.
- Do not feed cereal in a bottle.
- Once your baby can eat cereal well, gradually introduce pureed vegetables, fruits and meat. Offer single-ingredient foods first and wait one week between each new food. If your baby has a bad reaction to one food, wait a month and then try to introduce it again.
- By ages eight to ten months, most babies develop teeth and chewing skills so you can offer foods with more texture like mashed foods, ripe bananas, crackers or slices of cheese.
Continue to offer breastfeeding or formula feeding in during this transition to solid foods.
DO NOT OFFER:
- Cow's milk, citrus or honey before age one.
- Small, slippery foods, such as grapes, hot dogs or hard candy.
- Dry foods that are hard to chew, such as popcorn, raw carrots and nuts.
- Sticky or tough foods, such as peanut butter.
When your baby begins eating solid food, mealtime is sure to become an adventure for both of you.