“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’” (Genesis 1:29)
Introducing New Foods
Your baby has been breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle for about four months now. You’re getting ready to introduce solid foods, but are wondering how to start. She will probably be ready to begin eating solid foods between the ages of four and six months. This is the point when his digestive system can handle solids. If you introduce solids much later than about six months, the baby may reject the texture.
How to Know Your Baby Is Ready To Eat Solids
You will know your baby is ready to begin eating solids when:
- He sits up well and can support his head and neck
- He’s interested in what you’re eating and may even try to grab food from your plate
- His birth weight has doubled
- The extrusion reflex has stopped, meaning he now keeps food in his mouth instead of dribbling it out
- He is still hungry after a liquid meal
Another reason to start solid foods by six months of age is that babies’ natural stores of iron begin to deplete at that age. This means that they may not get enough iron from their liquid diet.
Baby Formula includes more iron than breast milk, but the iron in breast milk is more easily absorbed. Other good sources of iron are iron-fortified baby cereals, specifically rice cereal or oatmeal, which are common first cereals for your baby. They boost his iron intake. They are also easy to digest and are easily prepared by adding either breast milk, formula. or water.
Start With Pureed Vegetables and Fruits
Start your baby out with a variety of pureed vegetables and fruits. You can make your own from scratch, or buy pre-made baby food. We recommend giving baby her first solids when she’s moderately hungry, in good health, alert, and in a good mood.
We started our kids out with green vegetables first, since they have a plainer taste. If your baby begins with sweet foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or fruits, she may reject the nutritious and necessary green vegetables you offer her later. For that reason, we recommend starting with pureed green vegetables. Then you can add in the sweeter foods.
When introducing solids, your baby may only eat a few spoonfuls of food at first. Don’t give up – she will soon get the hang of it. Offering new foods early in the day gives you plenty of time to watch for allergic reactions. It is also advisable not to introduce other new foods for a few days. That way, if a reaction occurs you’ll know what caused it.
Offer Textured Foods Next
After your baby is used to pureed solid foods, you can try offering foods with more texture. This might be the same food mashed up, or other table foods such as meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or beans. If your baby doesn’t like a specific food, wait a few days and then offer it again. Eventually, she will try it.
For safety reasons, babies should eat sitting upright in a high chair instead of reclining in a car seat. The key is to cut or mash the food up into small enough chunks so that there will be no choking hazard. Also, harder foods like carrots should be steamed or cut into very small pieces before feeding them to your baby.
Your baby can try feeding herself with finger foods between about nine and eleven months. This is the time at which time most babies develop the “pincer grip.” This allows them to pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger. Then you can introduce a soft baby spoon with something like cream cheese or other sticky food on it that won’t go flying off too easily.
At about 6 months, most babies are getting between twenty-four and thirty-two ounces of formula or breast milk a day. By about age one, that amount will go down to sixteen to twenty-four ounces. They’ll be getting the rest of their daily nutrition from solid foods. By around eight or nine months, babies will be eating three “solid” meals a day.
These Foods Can Be Hazardous If Offered Too Early
Foods you should definitely wait to introduce include the following:
- Honey — it can cause a potentially dangerous disease called infant botulism and shouldn’t be given to infants
- Whole cow’s milk — the milk proteins and fat can irritate a baby’s tummy. Other dairy products have these proteins broken down, so they’re less likely to cause trouble and can be introduced earlier.
- Large pieces of food such as whole grapes or hot dogs
Sweet sugary treats shouldn’t be offered regularly. However, they can be eaten in moderation. The goal is not to allow your baby the chance to develop a preference for sweets. Otherwise, you’ll have some hard work to do in getting her to eat vegetables and other ‘plain’ foods again.