Introducing solid foods into your breastmilk or formula fed baby is always an exciting milestone, but often one where parents have a lot of questions to ensure their baby is as healthy as possible. This article will address common questions parents may have surrounding solid food introduction.
When should I start introducing solid foods?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of life. Therefore, most parents begin to introduce solid foods around 6-8 months of age. However, babies all grow and mature at different speeds, so it is more important to recognize the signs that your baby is ready for introducing solid foods.
These signs of readiness include:
- Ability to sit on their own or with minimal support
- Ability to hold their head up, lean forward, open mouth, and move head from side to side
- Has an interest in foods that your family is eating or grabbing for solid foods
- Presence of a tooth
- Absence of tongue thrusting reflex (baby sticks out tongue when you touch their lips)
- Ability to scoop objects into hands or pick them up with thumb and index finger
How do I introduce solid foods?
Begin by solid food introduction at a slow pace, around 1 food item every 3-5 days, to allow for time to notice if the baby has any reaction towards the food. If the mother is able to breastfeed, it is recommended that she breastfeed the baby for a short period of time before offering the baby their first solid food. You can also start by mixing solid foods into breastmilk or formula. Along with introducing solid foods, parents should begin to offer filtered water to their baby.
What are good foods to start with introducing?
It is best to start introducing solid foods that are local, organic, plant-based, and whole foods if possible. The foods you choose to start with should be mashed, pureed, or grated to help the baby’s digestive system assimilate the new foods.
Examples of foods to begin with:
- Fruits: avocados, bananas, berries, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pears, melon, prunes
- Steamed and pureed vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, beets, parsnips
- Soft boiled egg yolks
- Fats to use in purees: olive oil or hemp oil
Foods to Avoid:
- Cow’s milk (until 12 months of age)
- Honey (until 12 months of age)
- Processed foods
- Foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, or ingredients that you cannot pronounce
- Canned foods that contain BPA in lining
- Non organic animal products or non organic foods on the dirty dozen list
- Fruit juice
How do I know if my baby is reacting negatively to the foods they are eating?
Signs that your baby is having a reaction to a particular food include rashes, particularly those around mouth or anus, redness of face or cheeks, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting or increase in spitting up, fussiness/irritability, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, eczema, ear infections, and cradle cap. If a food reaction does occur, avoid that food for 6 weeks before reintroducing it into the baby’s diet once again. If the child has more severe symptoms, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the lips and face, call 911.
As you move past the solid food introduction phase, have fun with introducing a wide variety of foods with lots of diversity in flavor, color, and texture!