Solid Advice on Introducing Your Baby to Solid Foods
Your beautiful baby is about 4 months old now, and you are beginning to think about giving him solid foods. But you are not quite sure when and what you should feed your little darling. Worse, you have visions of mashed peas being hurled through the air, covering your hair, and hitting the floor and the walls.
Breast milk or fortified formula are the only foods your baby needs for the first 4-6 months. Breast milk or formula should remain the core of the baby's diet for the first year of life.
Your baby's development partly determines when he is ready to begin eating solid foods. Most babies are ready to begin solid foods at about 6 month of age. Starting solids sooner than four months could put the baby at risk.
Your baby may be ready to begin eating solid foods if he:
- Is able to sit up, with little support, and his head/neck movement is more coordinated
- Is interested in the foods you are eating
- Does not push food out of his mouth with his tongue
- Is able to pull himself forward when food is wanted and move away when full
Your baby should learn to eat semisolid and solid foods from a spoon and with fingers. Never give your baby semisolid or solid foods from a bottle or infant-feeder because the baby could choke or take in too much food at once. Eating from a spoon and with fingers is the first step toward independence and will help your baby develop chewing and swallowing skills.
Here are some tips that can help you and your baby make an easier transition:
- Do not expect the experience to be neat. —It is quite likely that more food may end up on the bib than in your baby's mouth, at least at first. Relax and try to make this an enjoyable experience for both of you. Talk calmly and softy to your baby while feeding.
- Use a very small spoon, one that is meant for babies. —A small spoon with a long handle is preferable. You can find them at most grocery and department stores.
- Start with only a small amount of food and work up to more. —Begin with no more than one or two teaspoons of food at a time and gradually work your way up to one or two tablespoons, two or three times a day.
- Make sure your baby is sitting up straight and leaning somewhat forward. —This position allows your baby to swallow more easily and minimizes the risk of choking.
- Let your baby set the pace of eating. —Do not feed too slow or too fast. Introduce only one new food at a time, at the beginning of the meal. Introduce new foods when your baby is most hungry. Otherwise, he may not be interested.
- Try, try again. —If your baby refuses a new food, do not force the issue. Offer it again in a day or two. If he still refuses, offer it again in two or three weeks.
Last reviewedJune 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.