Your baby’s first six months have been full of milestones and firsts: rolling over, smiling, a first laugh. And now you think it’s time to introduce your baby to solid foods. Around 4 to 6 months of age, most babies can hold up their head without support and may show an interest in solid foods. Some babies will make “ooh” sounds while watching others eat, or they may reach for a fork or pieces of food, good indicators they are ready to expand their diets.
In babies younger than 4 months, the digestive system is unable to process anything other than breast milk or formula, so it’s important not to introduce solid foods too early. However, waiting too long may make it harder for your baby to adjust to a new diet. But if your baby still seems hungry after consuming a meal of breast milk or formula, it may be time to add solid foods to the menu.
Introducing Solid Foods
In the beginning, solid foods should be given as a supplement to breast milk or formula and not as a replacement. If you are breastfeeding, it is best to continue feeding your baby breast milk for at least 12 months. Also, never introduce solid foods at a time when your baby is overly hungry or irritable. The introduction of solid foods should be done at a time when you are not rushed so your baby can experience the process of eating solid food.
For children 4–6 months old, give two to four tablespoons of food twice a day: once in the morning before feeding your baby any breast milk or formula and once at night before bedtime. Babies who are 7–12 months old should be fed three meals of solid food daily, each meal should be about the size of your baby’s fist. Eventually, your baby will understand the routine and will anticipate meals.
Avoid giving your baby foods that are too thick. Thick foods put your baby at an increased risk for choking or gagging. In the beginning, introduce only one solid food at a time. Mixing a banana or avocado with formula or breast milk is a great start. Some other best first foods include single-grain cereal specially formulated for infants or pureed fruits and vegetables.
If any reactions occur, stop giving the food immediately and contact your pediatrician. Never give an infant under 12 months honey. If you baby doesn’t show interest in a certain food or doesn’t seem to like the taste, try again on a different day. For additional questions, talk with you pediatrician.