Starting your baby with solid food is the beginning of lifelong eating habits that contribute to his or her overall health. For this reason, we have some general guidelines that can help you start your baby out on the right track to a healthy life.
Breast milk or infant formula supplies all of your baby’s nutritional needs for at least the first 4 to 6 months life, so don’t be in a rush to solid baby foods. Starting solids too early cause your baby to develop food allergies. Your baby’s intestinal track is not as fully developed during the first few months and introducing solid at the time can be too much to handle.
Another reason for not given solid foods earlier than 4 to 6 months is unintentional overfeeding, since younger babies cannot offer you signal when they are full, such as turning away or showing disinterest.
A third reason for holding off on solids is your baby’s inability to swallow solids correctly before 4 to 6 months of age and this can potentially cause choking. And contrary to the popular myth, starting solids early will not help your child to sleep through the night.
When offering a new type of food, always feed it several days in a row before starting another new food. This makes it easier to detect food allergies, which can present with diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing, hives or a rash. Do not offer mixed ingredient foods until you are sure that the baby isn’t allergic to any of the individual ingredients. Also don’t add any seasonings to your baby’s foods.
Other practices to avoid are putting your baby down for a nap or sleep with a bottle of formula or juice, as this allows sugar to pool in your baby’s mouth and can lead to cavities. Don’t feed your baby with cow’s milk, honey or egg whites until your baby is at least one year of age. Also do not give carbonated or caffeinated drinks, candy or other foods that your baby may choke on.
Remember, these are general guidelines and the amount and types of food that your baby eats may vary from day to day.
Four to Five Months
At this age, breast milk or formula is the only food that your baby needs and he should be taking 4-6 feedings each day (24-32 ounces), but you can start to familiarize your baby with the feel of a spoon and introduce solid foods. Cereal is the first solid you should give your baby and you can mix it breast milk, formula or water and feed it to your baby with spoon (not in a bottle). Start by feeding one tablespoon of an iron-fortified Rise cereal at one feeding and then slowly increase the amount to 3-4 tablespoon one or two times each day.
Six to Seven Months
While continuing to give 4-5 feedings of breast milk or formula (24-32 ounces) and 4 or more tablespoons of cereal each day, you can now start to give well-cooked strained or mashed vegetables or commercially prepared baby foods. Start with one tablespoon of mild tasting vegetable, such as green beans, peas, squash or carrot and gradually increase to 4-5 tablespoon one or two times each day. Start fruit about a month after starting vegetable and again, gradually increase to 4-5 tablespoon one or two times each day. You can use peeled, cooked or canned fruits (but only those packed in light syrup or water) that have been blendered or strained.
You can also begin to offer 2-3 ounces of 100% fruit juices. Start by mixing one part juice with two parts of water and offer it in a cup.
Eight Nine Months.
While continuing to give 3-4 feeding of breast milk or formula (24-32 ounces) and 4 or more tablespoons of cereal vegetable and fruit one or two times each day, you can now start to give more protein containing foods. These include well-cooked, strained or ground plain meats(chicken, beef, turkey, veal, lamb, boneless fish or liver), mild cheese, peanut butter( this controversial though), or egg yolks (not egg white as there is a high chance of allergic reaction in infants less than 12 months old). If using commercially prepared jars of baby food, do not use vegetables with meat as they have little meat and less protein and iron than jars with plain meat.
Start with 1-2 tablespoons and increase to 3-4 tablespoons and increase to 3-4 tablespoon once each day. If your baby doesn’t seem to like to eat plain meat, then you can mix it with a vegetable that he already likes.
You can also start to offer table food and finger food at this age. Give soft bite-size of food, such as soft fruit and vegetable pieces, pastas, crackers, and dry cheerios’ but do not give these foods if the child is going to be unattended in case of choking. You can also start begin to offer 3-4 ounces of formula or 100% fruit juice in a cup at this time.
Ten to Twelve Months
Your baby’s diet will begin to resemble that of the rest of the families, with 3 meals and 2 snacks each day and will include 3-4 feeding of breast milk or formula, iron fortified cereal (1/4-1/2 cup at breakfast), vegetable and fruits (1/2 cups/jar at lunch and dinner), protein foods (2-4 tablespoon each day),100% fruits juice(2-6 ounces in a cup each day) and some finger foods. It is important to offer a variety of foods to encourage good eating habits later.
There is no set age at which you should wean your baby. The current recommendation of the American Academy of Paediatrics is to continue to breast feed until your child is at least age one. It is also an age when most children can successfully drink from a cup and is therefore a good time to wean. You can gradually wean your child from breast feeding by stopping one feeding every four or five days and then gradually reducing the amount until you are down to one feeding each day.