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Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

Transitioning from breast- or bottle feeding need not be difficult. One baby might be ready for solids at 4 months, while another at 6 months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) there are no rigid rules on when to start your baby on solid food. In this article you will find advice of what, when, and how much to feed your baby to get off to a smooth start.

Out of all baby milestones, a baby’s readiness for solids is probably the most subtle. When he is teething you definitely know he is teething. Readiness for solid food is not quite the same. Relax and follow the subtle cues of your baby.

By 3 or 4 months “most” babies start to show an interest in table food by drooling, opening his mouth or leaning forward. My newest niece is quite comical about food. She just reaches and grabs for the plates of food on the table. She makes no bones about it. She wants what is in that plate and she goes after it.

At 4 to 6 months of age start with iron-fortified rice cereal. Rice cereal is different from wheat in that it does not contain potentially allergenic gluten. Mix one teaspoon of cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breast milk or warm formula until it has a semi-liquid consistency.

At 6 to 8 months of age introduce pureed fruits, oatmeal and barley cereals, vegetables, and strained meats. When you try a new food, don’t try another new food until two to three days after. Look for allergic reactions like diarrhea, rashes, and wheezing. If your baby has a reaction to the new food, try it again within a few months before consulting your doctor about the reaction.

At 7 to 10 months your baby should be ready for strained or mashed fruits and vegetables. Pasta, some veggies and fruit should be cooked until soft. You can mash the bananas. Meats and poultry should be finely chopped. Baby should be ready to try small finger foods that dissolve easily like “Cheerios.” There are many varieties of finger foods baby can try. Variety is important to teach baby even at this young age. Try as many different kinds of foods as there is available.

At 9 to 12 months is actually the age group of my niece at this time and when she started pulling the plates toward her in conquest of the food that was therein. She loves the crunchiness of crackers. You can see her little face full of delight as she munches on those crackers, good to the last bite for McKinsey.

If you want to make your own baby food be aware that certain vegetables such as beets, turnips, carrots, collard greens, and spinach may contain large amount of nitrates. These vegetables may cause a rare type of anemia in infants less than 3 months. It is probably safer never to feed this produce to young infants.

Solids do not replace breast milk or formula in the first year. Review the following as a guide of how much your baby should drink each day:

• 4 to 5 months: 30 ounces

• 5 to 6 month: 35 ounces

• 6 to 7 months: 28 ounces

• 7 to 9 months: 24 ounces

• 9 to 12 months: 22 ounces

In the first year there are some potential food-allergy triggers. Always consult with your doctor before giving your baby any of the following:

• Whole cow’s milk (cheese and yogurt are fine by 9 months)

• Wheat (okay to introduce after 8 months)

• Egg whites (yolks are fine after 8 months, but could be contaminated by whites)

• Peanuts

• Tree nuts (hard-shell nuts like almonds and walnuts)

• Soy

• Fish (introduce after age 2)

• Shellfish (introduce after age 3)

• Corn

• Citrus fruits

• Fresh strawberries

Babies do not chew much. Food that is not cut into very small pieces poses a choking hazard. Do not give your child under 4 years of age any of the following:

• Raw vegetables

• Candy

• Nuts and seeds

• Raisins

• Spoonfuls of peanut butter

• Popcorn

• Gum

• Hot dogs (unless cut into pieces with skin removed)

• Grapes (unless cut)

• Berries

Source: American Baby Magazine, June 2005

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use the information in this article to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition.

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