Health Tips: Updated Information about Starting Children on Solid Foods
Researchers have been
bringing new information to light regarding the conventional wisdom of starting
babies on solid food. It’s been fairly common in the U.S. for pediatricians to
recommend starting babies on a bland diet, beginning, usually, with rice cereal.
Then parents are encouraged to add new foods very gradually.
However, some child
nutrition experts are recognizing that in many other countries around the world,
children eat a wide variety of foods, including highly spiced foods, early on.
These researchers suggest that parents may want to consider the following
information, discuss it with their pediatricians, take their own family history
into account and then choose which foods to introduce to their children at what
- Many babies have
digestive tracts that are ready to accept new foods at about 3 to 4 months.
- Children who are exposed
to a variety of foods—repeatedly—early in their lives may be more likely to
eat a variety of foods as they get older.
- By the time children are
6 months old, they do need to have food in addition to breast milk to meet
their nutritional requirements.
- Nutritional monitoring
of children less than 2 years suggest that many children this age don’t get
enough iron in their diets. Consequently, it could be a good idea to give
children strained meat when they’re starting on solid foods.
- Children at risk for
food allergies—those whose parents had or have food allergies or whose
siblings have food allergies—should follow the recommendations to avoid eggs,
milk, wheat and soy until age one, and they should avoid peanuts, tree nuts
and shellfish for at least several years.
- There’s no evidence that
children who have no family history of allergy are likely to benefit from a
restrictive type of diet mentioned in the section above.
American Dietetic Association; USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center.