Your Baby's First Taste of Solid Foods
By Julianne Deveraux
Making the transition from breast or bottle to solid foods is a big
event for both you and baby. Starting on solid foods is not just about
nutrition; it is baby's exciting introduction to the world of new
flavors and to the enjoyment of chewing and eating. Here are some tips
for starting out on the right foot with solid foods.
Is your baby ready?
Most doctors agree that you should
wait until your baby is at least 4 to 6 months old and can hold her
head steady in an upright position before you introduce solid foods.
Rice is nice
The American Academy of Pediatrics says iron-fortified rice cereal
is a good choice for baby's first solid food. That's because
- Is easily digested.
- Provides the iron your baby needs.
- Can be readily diluted to a thin consistency with breastmilk or infant formula.
- Is least likely to cause an allergic reaction as compared to other grains.
The next cereals to try are oatmeal and barley. Offer mixed cereal
only after your baby has sampled all of the single-grain cereals.
A solid start
with your baby's doctor before starting any solid foods, but once
you've decide it's time, ease into the routine slowly. A few days
before you introduce solid foods, let your baby become comfortable at
the table with your family. Hold her in your lap, place her in a bouncy
baby chair nearby, or let her sit in a high chair. This tells baby
mealtime is special.
Set the stage for baby's first meal
- For your first attempt to feed baby with a spoon, pick a time of
day when baby is in good spirits, wide awake and mildly hungry. A
famished baby won't have the patience to try those first spoonfuls of
food. Try solid food for the first time whenever your baby is most
willing to eat slowly.
- Pick a time of day that works for you, too. Perhaps a quiet
weekend morning is best so you don't need to worry about rushing
through a feeding before or after work. If you're breastfeeding, select
the time of day when you sense your milk supply is at its lowest level.
- Before you start, breastfeed your baby or give her a bottle so
she won't be fussy. Don't reduce the time you spend nursing or the
ounces of breastmilk or formula you offer. This assures you your baby
is still getting adequate nourishment for growth, regardless of how
much–and which–solid food she eats.
- Have your camera and film ready.
- Position the high chair near the table. If you think it's
necessary, lay a drop cloth or a few sheets of newspaper around the
high chair to catch any drips.
- Cover your baby's clothes with a large, washable bib. (You may want to wear old clothes or an apron, as well.)
- Use a small baby-size spoon that's coated with plastic to protect baby's tender gums.
- Take turns feeding baby and capturing the action on film.
To feed baby:
- Mix the cereal soupy at first. One teaspoon of cereal to 3 or 4
teaspoons of breastmilk or iron-fortified formula is a good place to
start. As baby gets accustomed to the texture of the cereal, you can
gradually make the cereal mixture thicker.
- Because baby will probably try to grab the spoon anyway, place
a dab of cereal on your baby's high-chair tray so she can "finger
paint" with it and become familiar with its texture before you start
- Give baby 1 to 2 teaspoons at first. Don't put the cereal in a
bottle because this can cause baby to choke and doesn't teach her to
eat from a spoon.
- Don't be surprised if baby's first taste pops right back out
on her tongue. It's a natural reflex. You may even want to use your
finger instead of a spoon early on. Eventually baby will swallow more
than she spits out.
- Offer solid food at one feeding a day and stick to this
routine for a few days or a week, until your baby eats several
tablespoonfuls of cereal. Then add another feeding each day of the same