Introducing solid foods to your baby marks an important developmental milestone, but many parents struggle to know when to introduce solid foods.The foods you introduce and the way you introduce them can have lifelong effects on your child’s nutritional and dietary habits, so it’s important to manage the transition to solid foods well. Here is your age-by-age guide to introducing solid foods to babies:
Many parents are eager to see their babies move on to the next developmental milestone and thus want to introduce solid foods as soon as their babies can sit up. However, solid foods should never under any circumstances be given to your baby prior to six months of age. At this young age, solid foods are essentially wasted calories; they replace more nutritive foods like breast milk and formula and therefore can spark nutritional deficiencies. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and the World Health Organization all advise strongly against introducing solids at this age. Instead, continue feeding your baby breast milk and formula.
At this age, you can begin introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet. It is important that the foods you choose are nutritionally rich. Making your own baby food at home by pureeing fruits and vegetables or buying the “level one” baby foods available in the supermarket are excellent options. At this age, the foods should have no parts that need to be chewed and should be very thin. Pediatricians recommend feeding baby food two to three times per day and providing breast milk or formula at other feedings.
At this age, you should begin offering solid food three to four times per day. If your baby is crawling with her stomach off the ground, you can offer “stage two” or “stage three” foods that have small pieces that must be mashed with the jaw and gums. Continue to provide breast milk or formula at other feeding times. The goal at this age should be to slowly incorporate solid foods as a more hefty part of your baby’s diet, but there is no need to begin actively weaning your baby.
Most babies begin weaning themselves at this age. There’s no need to suddenly take away formula or breast milk. Instead, work on incorporating more solid foods into your child’s diet. By two years old, most children are getting all or most of their calories from solid foods. At all stages in this transition to solid foods, monitor your child’s caloric intake to ensure he or she is getting enough nourishment from the solid foods to compensate for the loss of breast milk or formula.
Things To Keep In Mind
Many children are resistant to trying new foods, but don’t get discouraged. Studies indicate children may have to be exposed to a food twenty times before they learn to like it! Don’t force your child to eat a food he or she hates, but continue offering the food. Most importantly, don’t substitute cookies and other unhealthy foods for fruits and veggies. The food your child eats in these early days will determine what he or she eats and is willing to try in later years, so it’s of paramount importance to work on getting your baby to enjoy healthy foods from a young age!
“Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby – Solid Food Charts For Babies,” WholesomeBabyFood.com.
“Starting Solid Foods,” Ask Dr. Sears.
“Solid Foods: How to Get Your Baby Started,” MayoClinic.com.