When To Introduce Solid Food To Your Baby

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Feeding Solids by Age, A Month by Month Guide

Close up of a baby being spoon fed
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Parents frequently have questions regarding what foods they can introduce at what age to their baby. This area of feeding solids might be one that you wish your baby had come with a coveted instruction manual. Thankfully, you don't have to figure out what and when to feed your baby on your own. There are lots of resources available to you - from your pediatrician to baby food cookbooks to your Baby's First Year.

All of those can point you in the right direction. The thing to realize is that there have been recent revisions in baby food feeding guidelines. Make sure the sources that you are relying upon are current and up-to-date. Use suggested benchmarks as guidelines, knowing that your baby's development is unique. Always take into consideration your baby's own health history and your family history when feeding solids.

The one thing that you do want to make sure that you do is ​to introduce your foods at a steady pace. Introduce one new food at a time, waiting at least 3 days in between new foods. This will better alert you to any symptoms of food allergies.

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Starting Baby on Solids

Starting Baby on Solids
Starting Baby on Solids Begins About 6 Months. Eugénie...

For the healthy baby without digestive or developmental problems, you'll more than likely keep the first 6 months or so simple. Breastmilk and/or infant formula is the only recommended source of nutrition during this time. The exact time of starting baby on solids is commonly debated between 4 or 6 months. Starting solids is a unique developmental milestone, and there really is no magic age that suits all babies, but you should not start solids before four months. The AAP notes that delaying solid food intake until after your infant is four months of age may reduce his or her risk of developing atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Is Your Baby Ready For Solids? 

Watch your baby for signs of readiness for solids, and base your decision of when to begin on those observations paired with a conversation with your pediatrician. The AAP recommends watching for the following signs your baby is ready:

  • Can sit up without support
  • Shows interest in food, such as reaching for food, opening ​the mouth, or leaning forward

Change in AAP Suggested on Baby Solids and Feeding

It used to be that medical professionals advocated delaying the start of certain foods for fear of allergic reaction. However, in 2008 studies brought to light that babies can have nearly all the foods that would be typically introduced during the first year as early as 6 months without issue.

Regardless be sure you know the symptoms of food allergies. A conversation with your doctor should help guide you on what you should do.

All that being said, many parents still prefer to have some guidelines for solid introduction. The following information details some suggestions on solid introduction but take into account the AAP's new policy that opens up some feeding choices to babies as young as 6 months.

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For the Sixth Month Old Feeding Your Baby Solids an Adventure

Baby Solids
Feeding Baby Solids Can Be Messy. mgstyer

Is My Baby Ready For Food?

How will you know if your baby is ready for solid food? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends looking for the following developmental milestones:

  • Good head control
  • Baby can sit up with support
  • Shows interest in food by leaning forward, opening mouth, and reaching for food

For the six-month-old (or thereabouts) baby, solids are a new experience. For a vast majority of family's in the United States, parents will crack open that box of infant cereal to christen the milestone. However, though a popular choice, don't think that beginning with infant cereal must be your starting point. In addition to (or instead of) infant cereal, you might consider over 20 first baby foods to start out on. Just remember to always wait 3 to 4 days between offering a new food to check for allergic reaction.

Here's an abbreviated list of first food options that little ones commonly love:

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Green beans
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Squash: acorn, butternut, pumpkin
  • Sweet potato

Additionally, at this time you might begin to introduce small amounts of juice. Be sure to follow baby juice guidelines in how much, when, and in what drinking containers your baby uses. These aspects can affect your baby's dental health.

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Baby Nutrition Between 6 to 8 Months Old

Baby Nutrition
Baby Nutrition Needs Grow During the First Year. megnut

As your baby accepts new foods, you'll find that approaching the eight-month mark she's got quite the menu of foods on her list. Her baby nutrition needs are being met by a variety of quality foods while you now find yourself more experienced and well-equipped with tips for starting solids.

In addition to the first foods she may have had, additional foods may include (but are certainly not limited to) some of the following:

  • Cereal and grain group: kasha (buckwheat), brown rice, bread
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: asparagus, carrots, summer squash, white potatoes
  • Meat group: chicken, turkey (You might consider puréeing your own meats.)
  • Dairy group: whole plain yogurt

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Baby Food Guide at 8 - 10 Months

Baby Food Guide
Baby Food Guide for 8 to 10 Months. agastecheg

By the end of this age range, you might be surprised at all the foods your baby is eating. As previously mentioned, the AAP's baby food guide confirms that she can have the foods listed below as early as six months. However, if you're looking for ideas for some foods you may not have tried, consider some of the options below. Don't forget to encourage her to try some of these as finger foods as well. Offer baby bite-sized pieces of soft foods while being mindful to watch for choking or gagging.

  • Cereal and grain group: oat cereal circles, teething biscuits, pasta
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, citrus fruits (be mindful that acidic fruits can cause diaper rashes), peeled and quartered grapes, kale, kiwi, melons, okra, onion (cooked), pineapple, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, turnips
  • Meat group: lamb, lean beef, liver
  • Dairy group: Mild cheeses like cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella, muenster, Swiss, and cottage cheese

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Feeding Baby Solid Food, 10 - 12 Months

Feeding Baby Solid
Feeding Baby Solid Food Can Be Messy. kahanaboy

By her first birthday, your baby will hopefully have a diverse palette and be able to occasionally feed herself independently. You can add in light seasonings to her meals, but keep both added salt and sugar to a bare minimum.

If she hasn't tried any of these foods yet, perhaps offer them during this time.

  • Cereal and grain group: whole grain pastas, bulgur cereal
  • Fruit and vegetable groups: artichoke (pureed heart), blueberries, cucumber, eggplant
  • Meat group: eggs, fish (white-fleshed) dried peas and beans, lentils, lima beans, pork, soybeans, veal

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Foods to Avoid

Foods to Avoid
Be Mindful of Foods to Avoid. dan4th

Most of the foods listed on the previous pages can ideally be introduced as early as 6 months if that is what you are comfortable with. So is there a list of foods to avoid for the first year? Yes, indeed. Here are some foods to avoid during the first year. Be mindful that the following foods shouldn't be given until sometime after the first birthday:

  • Nutrition and digestion concerns: cow's milk (inferior to breastmilk and formula)
  • Sanitation concerns: undercooked eggs, honey, raw meats
  • Choking hazard concerns:whole blueberries/strawberries/grapes, dried fruits, raisins, popcorn, nut butters

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