Starting Solid Foods for Infants
Two Simple Rules:
1. Food should be fun!
2. Solid food is extra during the first year!
Breast milk and/or infant formula provides all of your baby's nutritional needs for at least the first six months of life. Once your baby is able to sit with support, has steady and controlled head movements and still seems hungry after breast-feeding or a bottle of formula, it is time to think about starting solid foods. However, because of the potential for food allergies and intolerances, it is important to introduce new foods one at a time and slowly.
During the first few years of life, certain foods should be avoided. Infants whose family has a history of food allergies, eczema or asthma, are at high risk for food allergies and therefore need to be extra careful.
All Infants Avoid
High Risk Infants Also Avoid
Pure Honey until 1 year old
Cow's milk until 1 year old
Eggs until 2 years old
Fish until 3 years old
Nuts until 3 years old (peanut butter and tree nuts)
Generally, we recommend starting with one tablespoon of Stage 1 Rice cereal mixed with three tablespoons of expressed breast milk, formula or water, in a bowl and fed to your infant with a spoon. Your child will most likely tongue-thrust this liquid mixture as he/she gets used to the new texture. If he/she gags/chokes on the mixture, it may be too early, so wait a couple of weeks and then try again. At first, try this mixture once a day after a regular breast or bottle-feeding. Later advance to two and three meals a day as your child's needs indicate. Rice is very well digested and has a low likelihood of allergic reaction, however, some infants stools can become more solid. For these infants, Stage 1 Oatmeal is a nice alternative. We recommend single grain cereals prior to "mixed" grains because if a reaction occurs with a mixed cereal, it is difficult to determine which grain is responsible.
After a couple of weeks on cereal, it is time to consider Stage 1 vegetables and fruits. Always introduce one new food at a time and allow at least three days to pass between each new food. These guidelines are important so that if an allergic reaction were to occur (blotchy, red skin rash), the responsible food can be identified and avoided. The specific order of introducing vegetables and fruits is not as important as taking your time. Just remember, fruits are naturally sweet and some infants will refuse vegetables if they have had fruits first. Advancing to Stage 2 and 3 varies on your child's tolerance to the Stage 1 foods, interest in new foods and ability to handle a thicker, often chunkier, substance. If you prepare your own fruits and vegetables, be sure to combine foods that your child has tolerated along with only one new one at a time.
Most infants can begin some basic finger foods, like teething bisquets, frozen bagels and sturdy crackers after 6 months, while cheerios, cut-up grapes and other table foods could be started after 9 months. In families at low risk for allergies, yogurt, cheese and tastes of other dairy products can also be started after 9 months. However, you should not switch completely to whole milk until after 1 year of age. Juice, which should always be thought of as a treat and given in limited amounts (4 - 6 ounces a day), can be introduced after 6 months. Remember, use 100% fruit juice, water it down (at least 50%) and present it in a sippy cup. It may take a while, but your child will get the hang of it.
Normal, healthy infants and children receiving a varied diet do not need vitamin supplementation. However, once your child is at least 6 months of age, he/she will need a source of fluoride (either town water or supplementation).
Finally, the introduction of solid foods should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your child. Meal times should be low stress and fun. The first year should be a time to introduce new tastes and textures. As your child gains upper body control, and sits in a high chair, let him/her handle the food. Your goal is to try and begin good eating habits now, so that you will have a more cooperative toddler. If you fight with them now, it is a battle you will lose, so keep things fun!
If you have any questions or problems with the feeding process, we encourage you to call the office during call hours, 8:30 - 9:15 A.M. daily.