Starting Your Baby on Solid Food
For the first six months of life, your child needs nothing more than breast milk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s not necessary to supplement water, juice or any other foods. If you aren’t breastfeeding, your doctor can recommend a good infant formula.
At six months, your baby will probably be ready to start solid food. Typically, babies who are ready are nursing more than 8 times per day or drinking more than 32 ounces of formula a day. They should be able to hold their necks steady and sit without support.
Don’t start food too early
People sometimes believe that starting food a little earlier will help babies sleep through the night. But this isn’t true. Instead, starting food too early can:
- Cause food allergies
- Contribute to too much weight gain
- Cause diarrhea or constipation
- Cause upset stomach
- Cause choking
Start with a single-grain cereal
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby’s first food is a single-grain, iron-fortified cereal. Rice cereals are usually a good first choice. Mix about one tablespoon of the dry cereal with breast milk, formula or juice so that it looks like a thin gravy. Do this twice a day. Your baby will give you signals of fullness by blowing bubbles, playing or pushing the food away. Babies’ appetites are very small at first, so don’t worry if it seems like your baby isn’t eating very much.
Look for signs of allergy
Wait about seven days before you add a new food. After trying the rice cereal, for example, try switching to barley or oatmeal. This gradual addition of food is a good way to find out whether your baby has any food allergies. It’s normal for the stool to change color as babies start on solid food. But watch out for the following symptoms, which may indicate an allergic reaction:
- Skin rash
- Stuffy nose
If you notice any of these symptoms, talk with your pediatrician so you can find out whether you’re dealing with a food allergy or a completely unrelated health issue, such as a cold, virus, etc. It’s a good idea to keep a diary of the foods you give your baby, so you can easily identify what might be causing a problem.
American Academy of Pediatrics