Practical advice for new parents

Introducing Solids

Great Deals for Parents with Amazon Family
For the first four months of your baby's life, your baby's diet should consist exclusively of breast milk or infant formula. However, it is considered the optimum time to introduce solids to your baby between the fourth and sixth months. Before this age most babies still have the tongue-thrust reflex that pushes out anything inserted into the mouth, including a spoon. Interestingly, the four to six month age range is also around the time that a baby begins to sit upright and when his or her energy level increases. All of these factors make it the perfect time to begin slowly adding solid foods to this otherwise liquid diet.

The key to introducing solids is to take it slow and be patient. There is no need to rush your baby or to offer a wide variety of foods all at once. For the majority of babies, the first solid food introduced is rice cereal mixed with either formula or breast milk, followed by either barley or oatmeal. Avoid giving wheat cereal for the first few months as it can be the cause of a food allergy. Begin with a half a spoonful or less and ease the transition by giving your baby a little milk first before offering very small amounts of food, followed by more milk.

To prevent your baby from choking have your baby sit upright during feedings, either in an infant seat or in your lap. If he or she cries or turns away, don’t force the issue. The goal is to keep mealtimes positive and upbeat. If your baby shows no interest in solid food or repeatedly shuns being fed, go back to nursing or bottle-feeding for a week or two and then try again. There is no need to rush.

Always use a small spoon for feeding your baby. Never add cereal to a bottle of milk. This can quickly lead to over-consumption of calories and unhealthy weight gain. As well it's very important that your baby becomes accustomed to the process of eating while sitting up, taking bites from a spoon, resting between bites, and stopping when full. These first feedings will lay the groundwork for positive eating habits throughout childhood so take your time and have patience.

Once your baby has learned to eat cereal, slowly begin introducing other foods including strained vegetables, fruits, and meat. Offer your baby just one food at a time and wait at least three days before starting another food. After the introduction of each new food, watch for any signs of allergic reactions such as rashes, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you notice any possible allergic reactions, consult your doctor. Within a few months, your baby's diet should include breast milk or formula, cereal, vegetables, fruit, and meat divided amongst three daily meals.

[For more than 900 baby health related tips make sure you pick up a FREE copy of The Mommy MD Guides Audiobook (while the offer lasts). Details here.]