Babies often hit one of their growth spurts at 6 months. Around this time, it may seem that your little one just can't eat enough, and you may be wondering if now is the time to add some solid food. Here are some guidelines for knowing when your baby is ready for solid foods and how to introduce them.
A baby's growth from 5-8 months will allow for many changes in food intake.
or iron-fortified formula still needs to be the main part of a baby's diet. Solids may be started at this time.
Not Too Soon...
Solids do not help young infants sleep through the night. Starting solids too soon can:
chokingBe hard for your baby to digestIncrease the risk of developing allergiesPrevent your baby from getting enough breast milk or formula—Breast milk or iron-fortified formula should continue to be your child’s most important source of nutrients until age 12 months.
Just the Right Time
To find out if your baby is ready for solid foods, look for these signs:
Holds their neck up in a steady positionSits up on their own without supportOpens their mouth to eat food when you offer it Moves lower lip in when you take the spoon awayIs able to hold the food in their mouth and swallow itIs interested in the food that people are eating around them and reaches for food
To help your baby learn to eat solid foods, remember the following:
Choose a time when your baby is rested and happy.Have your baby sit up.Feed all food from a spoon.Add only one new food at a time. For example, do not mix fruits and vegetables.Give your baby plain, strained foods. Do this for fruits and vegetables that you are going to serve.Your baby does not need salt, grease, fat, or sugar added to foods.Do not give your baby honey. It can contain botulism spores.Homemade or purchased baby foods can be used.Your doctor will let you know when you can begin offering finger foods like crackers, dry cereal, and teething biscuits. This may not be until your baby is 7-9 months old.Make sure the food is not too hot or cold.When opening jar food, listen for the pop. Avoid using jars with lids that don't pop.Give small portions of food. Throw away leftovers, and do not put food back in the jar as this may make your child ill.
Other key points:
To protect teeth and begin weaning, always offer juice from a cup.To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding from a bottle.
|Age||Food and Daily Amount|
Breast milk: on demand—Your baby may need an iron supplement (given as drops) until they start getting enough iron from food sources. A vitamin D supplement may be needed, as well.|
Iron-fortified formula: 4-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each—If your baby is not eating enough vitamin D fortified formula, they may need a supplement.
Infant cereal: 2-4 tablespoons
|starting at 6 months||
Fruits/vegetables: 2-4 tablespoons, twice daily
Breast milk: 3-5 feedings, or on demand
Iron-fortified formula: 3-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each
Infant cereal: 4-6 tablespoons
Infant juice: 2-4 ounces (from cup only)
Fruits: 1-2 tablespoons
Vegetables: 5-7 tablespoons
Meats: 1-2 tablespoons
Finger foods: One small serving of toast, crackers, teething biscuits, or plain dry cereal
When giving your baby finger foods, watch your baby carefully for choking. Be extremely careful or avoid foods that may increase the chances of choking, like hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, seeds, popcorn, and nuts.
|Cereal|| Start with single-grain cereal such as rice cereal.Wait until your baby is 6 months old to try other kinds of cereal.Start by making the cereal thin—mix one teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.As baby gets older, make it thicker—mix one tablespoon dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.|
|Meat|| Use plain, strained meats when starting. If meat is too thick, thin with breast milk, iron-fortified formula, or meat juices.|
|Fruits and vegetables|| Start with pureed fruits and vegetables.Start with single, plain choices.Don't serve fruit desserts. |
|Drinks|| Continue breast milk or iron fortified formula for the first year of life. Do not give juice to children younger than 6 months.Your baby can start to drink water at 6 months or younger if the weather is warm.Have your baby use a cup, not a bottle.Use only 100% juice, not flavored fruit drinks like Kool-aid, punch, or cola.|
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Feeding guide for the first year. Stanford Children's Health website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=feeding-guide-for-the-first-year-90-P02209. Accessed March 25, 2016.
Fruit juice and your child's diet. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Fruit-Juice-and-Your-Childs-Diet.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed March 25, 2016.
Guidelines for feeding healthy infants. USDA WIC Works website. Available at: https://wicworks.fns.usda.gov/wicworks//WIC_Learning_Online/support/job_aids/guide.pdf. Accessed March 25, 2016.
NHLBI integrated guidelines for pediatric cardiovascular risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 12, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2016.
Starting solid foods. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Switching-To-Solid-Foods.aspx. Updated February 1, 2012. Accessed March 25, 2016.
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Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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