Starting Solids by Spoon
Do not give cereal (or other food) by bottle unless there is a medical reason for this that we have discussed with you. It will not make your baby sleep better and may cause excessive weight gain, choking, constipation, or other stomach upset. Wait until your baby can sit with good head control while being held or in a high chair AND will open his mouth when food comes his way.
Learning to eat from a spoon will not be a “natural” experience at first. Infants’ tongues move forward in order to breast or bottle feed. Swallowing solid food requires infants to learn to move their tongue towards the back. Hold your infant in a semi-upright position or use an infant-style seat. Take a small amount of food on the tip of a small narrow spoon and place it in the middle or back of the tongue. Your baby will like some new foods, and some he will reject. Continue to offer the “rejected” food, but don’t force. He will get used to different tastes.
- Preparing cereal: Mix dry cereals with warm or cool breast milk, formula, or water. Cereals mixed with breast milk may look watery because of a natural reaction between the enzymes in breast milk and the starch in the cereal. For a baby’s first feedings, the cereal should be thin; 1/2 Tablespoon of cereal mixed with 4-5 Tablespoons of liquid. As your baby becomes used to cereal, the mixture can be gradually thickened to the regular serving of 2 Tablespoons of cereal with 2 Tablespoons of liquid. The baby may or may not take the full amount each time, especially in the beginning.
- Preparing fruits and vegetables: For fruits and vegetables, you can puree your own, or buy the pre-made products that are readily available. At first, your baby will eat only a few Tablespoons of food at a time. Do not feed him directly from the jar as saliva from the spoon may turn foods to liquid by digesting them in the jar. Place the desired serving in a separate feeding dish and use a clean spoon. Recap the jar, refrigerate, and use the contents within two to three days.
Moving On From the Bottle
- Different from food allergies discussed above, are conditions related to “intolerance” of certain foods. There are infants who present with “allergic colitis” (fussiness, bloody stools), typically related to exposure of an immature intestinal tract to the cow’s milk protein (via breast milk or formula). This problem almost always resolves by 1 year of age and usually has no implications for risk of allergic disease later in life. There is also celiac disease (caused by intolerance to gluten) and lactose intolerance. These are not food allergies; however, exposure to the food does cause significant symptoms and these conditions are usually not outgrown. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s risk of food allergy or any symptoms they are experiencing, please discuss this with his/her physician. Sometimes testing or referral to an allergist is indicated to clarify your child’s risk and to make recommendations for treatment of their food allergy going forward.
Dr. Moore and Dr. Roe are Board Certified Pediatricians at Northpoint Pediatrics.