Newborns Solid Food Baby

Most babies are ready for solid foods between four and six months of age. At this point a baby’s neck muscles are strong and he’s able to sit and hold up his head. Babies also start to show interest in eating the foods their parents eat. As their digestive systems mature, you can safely introduce solid food into the baby’s diet while continuing to breastfeed.

Weaning Off Breast Milk

Weaning is the process that both mothers and babies go through when the time has come to stop breastfeeding (or bottle feeding) and transition to solid foods. Ideally, weaning should take place over several weeks (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until one year of age).

The first solid food that many parents introduce is rice cereal thinned with breast milk (or formula). Cereals also contain iron and calcium, two minerals that are important for infant development.

Commercially Prepared Baby Foods

Many commercially prepared baby foods are available. When buying baby food, make sure the seal on the jar isn’t broken, the lid is not damaged and the expiration date has not passed.

Refrain from buying mixed foods or fruit desserts. These products may lack the proper nutrition a baby needs. Instead, use single ingredient foods and mix them yourself. Some mothers make baby food at home. Food mills or food processors make the job easy.

As each new food is introduced, ingredients can be pureed and stored in ice cube trays. The ice cube trays can be frozen so the food remains fresh until it’s needed. The food is then defrosted and heated to room temperature prior to your baby’s feeding.

Good First Foods for Your Baby

After your baby is able to eat and digest cereals, you can choose from a wider variety of foods to introduce your baby to. Some experts recommend that the baby should start with yellow fruits and vegetables because they’re easier to digest, but others contend that green vegetables should be introduced first so that the baby does not develop a preference for the sweeter yellow foods. Ultimately, it depends on the mother’s preference.

Some good first foods include:

  • baby cereals
  • applesauce (unsweetened)
  • bananas
  • carrots
  • peaches
  • pears
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes.

Also, make sure all foods are pureed and smooth so that your baby won’t have difficulty swallowing them.

New Foods and Food Allergies

Always introduce new foods one at a time. A good rule of thumb is to introduce only one new food a week. Symptoms of food allergies can take up to four days to appear. Unusual crying, rashes, diarrhea, nausea or other unusual behaviors can signal food allergies.

If a food allergy is suspected, stop feeding the new food and wait a few days before starting another. Foods like fish, eggs, peanuts, wheat and chocolate have a high incidence of allergy in infants and children. These foods should be avoided until the digestive system is more mature.

Other foods are very dangerous to babies and young children. Foods like hot dogs, grapes, nuts, and small carrots are easy for babies to choke on.

No Honey!

Feeding your infant honey can make him very sick, and may be fatal. Honey may contain Botulism spores, which has no effect on the adult gastrointestinal system, but can wreak havoc with an infant’s. The spores germinate in the baby’s GI tract producing botulinum toxin, the most lethal natural toxin know to man.

Wait until your child is at least 12 months old before introducing honey. (The same rule applies to corn syrup which is typically not sterilized.)

A Brave New World

Introducing solid foods is an adventure. Foods inspire overt facial expressions in babies who don’t hide their dislikes nor do they conceal their enjoyment. Some of their favorite foods inspire hums and smiles while foods with stronger tastes expose their displeasure. Remember to reintroduce stronger tastes over and over so your baby receives the proper nutrients and eventually develops a liking for that food.

Have fun, and be prepared to get messy!

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. (updated 2003). Breast feeding: Hints to help you get off to a good start.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (updated 2004). A woman’s guide to breastfeeding.

BabyCenter LLC. (updated 2005). Introducing solid foods.

Briefel, R.R., Reidy, K., Karwe, V.,