Of course, the majority of her daily calories should still come from breast milk or formula until the end of her first year. Here are some things to consider before introducing solid foods for the first time:
When to Start Introducing Solid Foods
Most babies are ready for solids by 4-6 months. But it actually goes by infant growth and development. In other words, she must be able to push food to the back of her mouth with her tongue in order to swallow it.
If your baby is 4-6 months old and can sit with support, control her head, turn away from you, and move food to the back of her mouth with her tongue, she's probably ready.
What Foods to Start With
- Your baby's doctor may suggest starting with iron-fortified rice cereal. Just a couple of bites at first. Then you can work up to a couple of tablespoons, several times a day. Some pediatricians believe it is best to start with meats to make certain babies get enough iron.
- After about a week, you can try barley or oat cereal.
- If the cereal is going well, introduce one fruit or vegetable at a time. Wait a week before you introduce another new type. Strained single foods like applesauce, sweet potatoes or peas are good choices.
- Or, you can try strained or blended meats like chicken, turkey, or beef. Wait a week before you introduce another new type.
What to Watch For When Introducing Solid Foods
Some common first-year food allergies are cow's milk, soy, and eggs. Don't give your baby any foods your doctor hasn't okayed first. And introduce new foods one at a time, so you can watch closely for allergic reactions.
Your baby's airway is small. To help prevent choking, cut your baby's food into very small pieces. Avoid things like popcorn, grapes, hot dogs, and cherries. And never leave her unattended while eating.
While her tastes may change, her eating habits start now. So encourage her to enjoy what she's eating by making mealtime a fun adventure. Expose her to a wide variety of different flavors, colors and tastes. It may take repeated exposure to a new food before she will eat it. Set a good example by eating nutritiously yourself. And avoid connecting food to approval or comfort.
Solids Don't Guarantee Sleep
There's no proof that feeding a baby solid foods helps babies sleep through the night. What's more, experts do not recommend starting babies on solid foods until 4-6 months of age. That's in part because right now, formula or breast milk is giving your baby all the nutrients he needs.
In his first few months, your baby goes through rapid growth and needs calories. But remember that his stomach capacity is small. So frequent feedings are necessary. Your baby sleeping through the night comes along later.
A Word About Texture
Trying foods with different textures helps babies learn how to handle foods in their mouth. Babies who stay on pureed foods too long may be less willing to eat textured foods. So it's important to vary both tastes and textures when serving foods. Your baby will start on pureed food. Next, progress to lumpy pureed, then mashed or minced food as baby gets older. Even with few teeth, babies can chew and swallow lumpy, mashed or small pieces of food.