Frequently Asked Questions: Starting Solid Foods
Although there is no “right” way to introduce solid foods, here are general feeding guidelines to consider:
• For healthy full-term babies, food can safely be started between 4-6 months. To be sure your child is ready, your infant should have good head control and open his/her mouth when food is placed near the lips.
• Start by offering a small amount of a single ingredient food and introduce one new food at a time
• To be sure a food agrees with your baby, introduce a new food every 3 to 5 days
• Keep foods pureed until about 8-10 months of age, at which time consider advancing to small pieces of dissolvable “finger foods”
• As your child consumes more solid foods, be sure and offer water to drink
• Avoid Raw honey (which can cause botulism) and cow’s milk until 1 year of age
Keep the food healthy!
• Start with foods that are “grown from the ground”; such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Consider starting with pureed peas, sweet potato, applesauce, pears, bananas, avocado, beans, and lentils
• avoid added sugar and salt
• Follow your child’s cues--in general, offer food as long as they are leaning forward and opening their mouth to eat. Children will let you know when they are done by closing their mouths when food is offered.
• The parent is responsible to offer quality food, and the infants determine the quantity of food!
Offer a Variety of Foods
• Strong scientific evidence has shown that the early introduction of a variety of foods will help prevent allergies. Have you heard the theory that when kids roll around in dirt it helps build up the immune system? It is a similar concept to food tolerance. For example, introducing peanuts (in a mashed-up form to avoid choking of course!) between 4-6 months of age has been shown to prevent peanut allergies.
• introduce dairy products and protein, such as soft tofu, fish, meat, and poultry
• A favorite saying we have is “Food under 1 is just for fun!” as the main calorie source in the first year is generally breast milk and/or formula
• Feeding your infant is a great opportunity to explore and find enjoyment in eating
• If your child does not show interest in a particular food at first, that’s okay! Research shows that it may take up to 15 exposures of new food until they are interested. It may take them time to be good eaters.
• Include your baby in family mealtimes as this will help promote socialization and healthy habits