Feeding Infants Solid Food
November 24, 2007
Can you believe that doctors once used to instruct parents to feed babies solid food as early as two weeks after birth? Fortunately we've become much wiser and have realized that mother natures dictates the best time to start feeding your baby something other than breast milk or formula. So how do you know when your baby is ready?
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you should wait until your baby is four to six months old to introduce solid food to reduce the chances of developing food allergies. (I personally waited until my kids were 6 months old.) Then, look for the signs:
- Can hold head up and has mastered head control
- Can sit up without support or only minimal support
- Drooling decreases (a sign that baby has learned how to swallow efficiently)
- Doesn't push objects, like food, out with tongue (a reflex that helps them suck from the breast; it usually goes away after 4 months of age)
- Is able to close mouth effectively to keep food in
- Shows interest when you're eating
- May begin teething (but different babies teeth at different times, so not an absolute indication)
- Always seems to be hungry.
When introducing solid food to your baby, remember to:
- Introduce only one new food at a time.
- Give the food to your baby early in the day, so you have all day long to watch for allergic reactions. You don't want your baby to develop an allergic reaction (which can sometimes be fatal) in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping and not aware of the baby's condition.
- Give the baby only 1 to 2 teaspoons of the food.
- Wait one week from the introduction of the first food before introducing a different food.
Here's a list of the order I used to introduce solid foods to my babies. If you decide to follow this list be sure that you check with your pediatrician first. Don't rely on baby food companies to tell you what should be given when because I have seen products for 6 month old babies with ingredients that should not be given to babies under 12 months.
At 4 to 7 months old (introduce in the following order to reduce allergic reactions)
- Iron-fortified infant rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula
- Iron-fortified infant oat cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula
- Iron-fortified infant barley cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula
- Apples (mixed with cereal if the flavor is too strong)
- Pears (mixed with cereal if the flavor is too strong)
- Iron-fortified infant wheat cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula (there is debate about when wheat should be introduced, but my doctor suggests introducing it before 7 months old because there is evidence that doing so can reduce allergies and intolerance, but talk to your doctor first before introducing wheat)
- Winter squash
- Sweet potato
6 to 9 months old (introduce in the following order after all of the above items have been introduced)
- Green peas
- Green beans
- Summer squash
At least 9 months old (after the above items have been introduced)
- Egg yolks
At least 12 months old (in any order)
- Bell peppers
- Whole milk
- Grapes (cute into quarters and possibly peeled)
- Egg whites
- Oranges and other citrus fruits
- Peanut butter (I prefer to wait until at least 18 months for this)
- Dark greens
- Artichoke heart
Sources: http://www.aap.org/, http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/feeding_infants.html, http://askdrsears.com/html/3/T030500.asp,