Trying to decide when to start solid foods for your baby can be confusing, you are not alone. We would like to take some time to go through some of the issues that can be overwhelming. The following comments are the most current evidence to the answer.
When to Feed Your Baby Solid Food
Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it’s best to wait until your baby is around six months old before offering any food other than breast milk. There has been a large amount of research on this, and most health organizations have updated their recommendations to agree with current research. By the age of six months most babies have reached the milestones necessary for safe and successful feeding.
What to Feed Your Baby
If your 6 month old baby is just starting solids at this stage, start slowly, preparing a very small amount of whatever food you have chosen to begin with. Nurse or bottle feed your baby first and then offer your little one solid food. It’s important to remember that baby’s milk continues to be more important than solids at this age – don’t worry when baby won’t eat more than a few bites.
You can ask a dozen pediatrician and you will get a dozen different answers about what food to start feeding your baby. Traditionally, parents have started with rice cereal, and many doctors still recommend this as a first food. Iron is added to rice cereal and since iron has a huge developmental impact in lost IQ points, rice cereal with Iron will avoid iron deficiency anemia. However iron is available from a lot of other sources as well. Another reason for rice cereal’s popularity is its low potential for allergic reaction. The thinking used to be that postponing the introduction of potentially allergenic foods would keep children from developing food allergies. But there is some really convincing evidence from recent studies (peanuts in particular) that early introduction can teach the immune system to tolerate these foods and actually reduce the risk for allergy. There is no longer any reason to think that parents need to wait until a child is older than six months to introduce peanut products or other potentially allergenic foods (like cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts , wheat, soy, fish or shellfish).
So while rice cereal is not wrong, it is also not necessarily the best first food. Aside from breast milk or infant formula feed your baby what you should eat such as vegetables and fruits, meats, fish poultry and eggs, and a variety of whole grains not just rice.
How to Feed Your Baby
For your first few feedings, give your baby just 1 or 2 teaspoons of solid food or infant cereal after nursing or bottle-feeding. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon to feed your baby to avoid injuring his gums. Put a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon and offer it to him. If your baby doesn’t seem very interested, just let him smell the food for now and try again another time. If you’re feeding your baby ready-to-eat jars or pouches of baby food put some into a small dish and feed him from that. (If you dip his feeding spoon into the jar, it’s not a good idea to save the leftovers because bacteria from his mouth will now be in the jar.) Throw away any open baby food jars within a day or two of opening them. Never add food to your baby’s bottle unless your pediatrician specifically recommends adding cereal to a bottle for a medical reason, you should steer clear of baby smoothies and stick with the spoon.
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About Pediatrics of Florence
We believe that children are more than just “little adults.” They have unique personalities, challenges, and life circumstances and we have made every effort to make our offices and care as “kid friendly” as possible. We have an aquatic theme in the waiting rooms (separated for sick and well children) as well as themed examination rooms. All of our physicians are Board Certified Pediatricians and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and our nurse practitioners are all licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and are available to see both well and sick children.
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