Nutrition/Transitioning to Solid Foods
Is your child ready for solid foods?
The transition to solid foods marks a big milestone in your child’s life. Most experts recommend introducing solid foods once a baby reaches 4–6 months of age, but every child is different. Look for these signs to determine if your baby is ready for solid foods:
- Are they able to sit with support and hold their head upright and steady?
- Are they eager to put hands and other objects in their mouth?
- Are they interested in your food?
- Do they lean forward when hungry, and turn away when they’re full?
- Are they able to keep food in their mouth, or do they still have a tongue thrust reflex?
A Good Start
Once you’ve determined that your baby is ready for solids, you can slowly begin to introduce new foods. Be sure to continue with breast milk or formula until at least their first birthday, but begin moving from bottle to cup. By around 9–12 months, they should be able to handle a cup on their own.
Baby Cereal. Most parents start with something simple with 1 ingredient, such as baby cereal or a mashed up fruit or vegetable. Blend a tablespoon of iron-fortified, single-grain baby cereal with approximately 4 tablespoons of breast milk or formula, and offer with a small spoon once or twice a day. Do not serve cereal in a bottle. As your baby becomes more comfortable with the spoon, you can gradually thicken the cereal, increasing serving size.
Pureed Baby Food. Once your baby is accustomed to this first food, you can gradually add other pureed fruits, vegetables and even meats to their diet. Go slowly though, introducing one item at a time and watching carefully for reactions, such as rash or diarrhea. It’s also a good idea to wait a few days before introducing the next new food. Choose simple, single-ingredient products at this stage, with no added sugar or salt.
Finger Foods. Around the age of 8–10 months, you should be able to offer carefully prepared finger foods, including soft fruits and vegetables, very finely chopped meats and cheeses, baby crackers, and dry cereal. By the end of their first year, your baby will likely be able to handle pureed or chopped versions of your regular family meals.
Tips for a Smooth Transition
- Start slowly and always wait a few days before introducing the next new food.
- Do not add salt, sugar or other seasonings to your baby’s food.
- Don’t feed your baby directly from a jar. Remove just enough food for one feeding, and store the rest in the refrigerator.
- Avoid hot dogs, grapes, raw vegetables or large fruit chunks, which can be a choking hazard.
- Choose soft foods that are easy to swallow and digest.
- Avoid honey and cow’s milk until your baby is at least 1 year old.
- Opt for nutritious fruits, rather than fruit juices.