When should I introduce solid food to my baby?
You can introduce solids any time between 4 and 6 months if your baby is ready. Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs and can handle. His digestive system simply isn’t ready for solids until he nears his half-birthday.
When your baby is ready and the doctor has given you the OK to try solid foods, pick a time of daywhen your baby is not tired or cranky. You want your baby to be a little hungry, but not all-out starving; you might want to let your baby breastfeed a while, or provide part of the usual bottle.
Have your baby sit supported in your lap or in an upright infant seat. Infants who sit well, usually around 6 months, can be placed in a high chair with a safety strap.
Most babies’ first food is a little iron-fortified infant single-grain cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Place the spoon near your baby’s lips, and let the baby smell and taste. Don’t be surprised if this first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again. Most food offered to your baby at this age will end up on the baby’s chin, bib, or high-chair tray. Again, this is just an introduction.
Do not add cereal to your baby’s bottle unless your doctor instructs you to do so, as this can cause babies to become overweight and doesn’t help the baby learn how to eat solid foods
For most infants, you can start with any pureed solid food. While it’s traditional to start your baby on solids with a single-grain cereal, there’s no medical evidence to show that introducing solid foods in a particular order will benefit your baby. Good foods to start with include pureed sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, and pears.
First, nurse or bottle-feed your baby. Then give him one or two teaspoons of pureed solid food. If you decide to start with cereal, mix it with enough formula or breast milk to make a semi-liquid. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon when you feed your baby, to avoid injuring his gums. Start with just a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon.
If your baby doesn’t seem very interested in eating off the spoon, let him smell and taste the food or wait until he warms up to the idea of eating something solid. Don’t add cereal to your baby’s bottle or he may not make the connection that food is to be eaten sitting up and from a spoon.
Begin with a once-a-day feeding, whenever it’s convenient for you and your baby, but not at a time when your baby seems tired or cranky. Your baby may not eat much in the beginning, but give him time to get used to the experience. Some babies need practice keeping food in their mouths and swallowing.
Once he gets used to his new diet, he’ll be ready for a few tablespoons of food a day. If he’s eating cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by adding less liquid. As the amount your baby eats increases, add another feeding.