Introducing Solid Food to Your Baby
Breast milk or iron-fortified formula is the ONLY food your baby needs until he or she reaches 4 to 6 months of age. By 4 to 6 months, most babies need some solid food in addition to breast milk or formula.
Look for these signs before trying to offer solid food:
Iron-enriched cereal is a good first food for your baby. Rice cereal is not as likely to cause an allergy, so try it first. Always serve solid foods with a spoon—even if it takes a long time. Don’t put cereal in a baby bottle. First feedings should be a few small spoonfuls of a very thin mixture of cereal and breast milk or formula.
Always introduce new foods one at a time. Wait 4 to 5 days before introducing another new food. This will help you identify any food your baby may be allergic to. Foods that are most likely to cause allergies are: cow’s milk, wheat, egg whites, peanuts, corn, beef, cocoa, oranges and other citrus fruits. Babies often outgrow early reactions to these foods. Wait to serve these foods when your baby is older. Look for allergic reactions of diarrhea, persistent cough, or a rash.
Iron is important for your baby. Use iron-fortified formula and select iron-rich foods like iron-enriched cereal, strained meats, dark, green vegetables, egg yolks, enriched grain products. When solid food is introduced too early, your baby may not be getting enough iron.
Babies who eat a variety of foods rarely need vitamin drops or supplements. Only your doctor should prescribe supplements if tests show the need.
Don’t force your baby to finish his or her food. This may lead to over-eating later in life. The mother should decide what the baby eats—but baby should decide how much.
Older babies with teeth enjoy picking up little pieces of food from the table or tray. You can offer them small, tender, finger foods. The food you prepare for the family can also be given to the baby if it is put through a blender or food mill. Prepare your baby’s food before you add sugar or salt to the family meal.