Introducing Solid Food to Infants

During the first four to six months of life, breast milk or formula is the mainstay of a baby’s nutrition and calories. Therefore, solid food should be given in a way so as to not interfere with nursing or formula feeding. It is usually appropriate to feed solid foods after nursing or formula feeding for that reason.

Feed solid foods with a spoon, not in the bottle. If your baby will not accept the spoon, he or she is not ready for solid foods and you should wait a few days or weeks before trying again.

The following is a proposed sequence to introduce solid foods. This order is not set in stone, but rather serves as a general guideline to help you in feeding your baby. There is no medical study that shows the correct order to introduce solid foods.

Cereal (rice, oat or barley)

  • Put breast milk or formula in a bowl and add a small amount of cereal;then feed with a spoon.
  • Once your baby is taking several spoonfuls at a time, then gradually thicken over a few days.
  • Once your baby has mastered the thickened cereal, then you can move onto other foods.

Pureed foods (either homemade or jar foods)

  • Yellow vegetables (e.g. carrots, squash or sweet potatoes)
  • Fruits (e.g. apples, bananas, pears, peaches or apricots)
  • Green vegetables (e.g. beans or peas)
  • Meats (Don’t be concerned if your baby does not like pureed meats, just keep trying.)

Add new foods one at a time, allowing 3-4 days between each new food to observe for any reactions before adding the next food. Do not persist in offering foods which your baby dislikes or does not tolerate. Try these foods again a few weeks later. Increase the frequency of meals as it works for you and your baby’s schedules.

At 8-10 months of age, begin finger and table foods with foods that are easily mashed or crumbled. Stage 3 meals can be started at this time. Avoid choking foods such as peas, corn, grapes, hot dogs, peanuts, raisins and foods with skins or peels.

DO NOT introduce honey until after your baby’s 1st birthday.

DO NOT substitute whole milk for breast milk or formula until after your baby’s 1st birthday because your baby needs the additional calories and nutrients that breast milk and formula contain.

Food allergies are becoming more common in children for unclear reasons. Much research has been performed to identify the correct time to introduce more allergenic foods (e.g. nuts, shellfish or eggs) into a baby’s diet. The most recent recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer advocate the delayed introduction of any food past 4 months of age. The exception is for families with a significant family history of food allergies and please discuss with your pediatrician if your baby has a first-degree relative (e.g. parent or sibling) with a food allergy.)

Good luck and have fun with your infant!!

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