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When Should I Introduce Solid Foods?

As your baby grows, they will slowly switch from only eating breastmilk or formula to eating some solid foods. This switch will happen over a few months. At first, introducing solids to your baby is about teaching them to chew and swallow. Eventually, babies start to gain nutritional benefit from the new foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin to give their baby new food when they are around six months old. Ask your pediatrician when you should start introducing new foods. They will be able to give you advice.


What are signs that my baby is ready for new foods?

  • They sit up alone or with support
  • They have strong head and neck control
  • They open their mouth when you offer them food
  • They swallow food instead of pushing it back out of their mouth
  • They bring objects to their mouth
  • They grasp small objects like toys or food
  • They move food from the front of their tongue to the back of their tongue to swallow
  • They show interest in the food that you are eating


What new foods should I give my baby?

  1. Baby cereal. Most parents start with baby cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula on a spoon. Try giving your baby a few spoons of baby cereal after breastfeeding. This will make sure that your baby does not fill up on cereal as most of their nutrients are still coming from breastmilk or formula. When eating cereal, your baby will learn how to sit in a highchair, take bites from a spoon, and signal to you that they are full. Make sure that you give your baby fortified infant cereals like oatmeal, barley or multi-grain cereals. Avoid infant rice cereal.
  2. If your baby is comfortable eating oatmeal, you can start serving them single ingredient purees (blended up foods). Try giving them pureed peas, squash, bananas, or apple sauce. Give your baby the same puree for at least three days in row. Then wait a few days between introducing a new food. After introducing a new food, check your baby to make sure that they do not have a rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. These symptoms can be signs of an allergic reaction. Once your baby is comfortable with one-ingredient purees, you can start introducing two ingredient purees and thicker purees like yoghurt and mashed potatoes.
  3. Small solids. Once your baby begins bringing their hands to their mouth, you can introduce finger foods. These foods should be about the size of baby’s fingertip around nine months old. Consider small shreds of meat or small pieces of fruit, steamed veggies, eggs and cheese. Make sure that you avoid giving your baby a choking hazard such as hot dogs, nuts, raw veggies, large fruit pieces, and grapes.


What new drinks should I give my baby?

  • Around nine months, you can give your baby water in a sippy cup during meals and snacks.
  • Avoid sweet drinks like juice.
  • Avoid cow’s milk or alternative milks until your baby is 12 months old.


What foods and drinks are not safe for my baby?

  • Honey
  • Cow’s milk as a drink. Cow’s milk is okay for babies in cheese, yoghurt, and other products, but not as a drink by itself.
  • Choking hazards such as nuts, seeds, raisins, grapes, raw vegetables, popcorn, hotdogs, etc.


Tips for preparing new foods for your baby:

  • Don’t give your baby foods with spices.
  • Never put your baby’s food in a bottle.
  • Cook food until it is soft enough that you can smash it with a fork.
  • Cut cylindrical pieces of food like hotdogs or string cheese into long, thin strips. If you cut them into round pieces, they become a choking hazard.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics offers sample menus for foods that you can give your baby at different ages. Here is a sample menu for a baby 8 to 12 months old and a sample menu for a one year old.
  • Consult your child’s doctor about introducing allergens.


Tips for giving your baby new foods:

  • Put your baby on a schedule, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Follow your baby’s cues for how hungry they are. For example, they may close their mouth when they are feeling full.
  • Let your baby get messy.
  • Try a food with your baby multiple times, even if they don’t like it the first time. Babies take time to get used to new textures and flavors.
  • Your baby’s poop may be thicker and more formed once you start feeding them solids. Keep an eye out for constipation. If your baby is becoming constipated, give them more breastmilk or formula.


What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby-led weaning is a practice that some parents use to introduce solids. Rather than start with purees, parents start with solids. This practice involves modifying the foods that the rest of the family is eating for a baby. Check out this article from the Cleveland Clinic if you want to learn more.


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Having a Baby? Get Prenatal Care