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Infant nutrition: making the transition to solid foods

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Is it time for infant cereal? Rice, oatmeal, or barley? What baby food will you serve after that? Which comes first fruits or vegetables?

Happy eating baby

You have probably heard advice from your mother, grandmother and lots of well-meaning friends about a baby solid food schedule. It can seem confusing and overwhelming. The good news? There are very few hard and fast rules. Plus, you know your baby best. That and some common sense are more helpful than any week-by-week schedule. Follow these simple guidelines and learn the best time and way to transition to solid foods.

What are some signs that it’s time to start introducing solid food? The American Academy of Pediatrics has the following guidelines:
  • Can sit up (with support ) and can hold head and neck up well. Place them in a high chair for their feedings.
  • Shows interest in what you are eating and may even try to grab food from your plate.

Tips for those first feedings

Your baby has never had a mouthful of anything but liquids. Don’t be surprised if your little one looks confused, spits out the food or closes her mouth. After all, your baby does not know what to expect. Start with half a spoonful or less and be positive and happy throughout it all. The first few times you try solid foods, consider feeding a little bit of breast milk or formula first so your baby doesn’t get frustrated out of hunger.

Don’t be surprised if more food ends up on your baby’s face and hands than in his mouth. It’s all part of the process. If your baby gets very upset and turns away from the spoon repeatedly, go back to nursing or bottle-feeding and try again in a day or two. Remember, you know your baby best and transitions can be difficult.
Note from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Do not put baby cereal in a bottle because your baby could choke. It also may increase the amount of food your baby eats and can cause your baby to gain too much weight. However, cereal in a bottle may be recommended if your baby has reflux. Check with your child’s doctor.

First solid foods

Many families introduce single-grain cereals first such as rice or oatmeal. Cereal comes dry and is mixed with formula or breastmilk and thus tastes more like something familiar to your baby. Start with a few spoonfuls of cereal at early feedings.

Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually introduce other foods. The order in which you introduce foods doesn’t matter but within a few months of starting solid foods your baby’s diet should contain a good variety of foods including cereal, vegetables, fruits and meats. After each new food, wait two to three days and watch for food sensitivities, or reactions such as rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. If this happens hold this food for a week and reintroduce again and watch for the same reaction. Most babies tolerate most foods.
Note from the American Academy of Pediatrics: If you make your own baby food, be aware that home-prepared spinach, beets, green beans, squash, and carrots are not good choices during early infancy. They may contain large amounts of nitrates. Nitrates are chemicals that can cause an unusual type of anemia (low blood count) in young babies. Commercially prepared vegetables are safer because the manufacturers test for nitrates. Peas, corn, and sweet potatoes are better choices for home-prepared baby foods.

Remember good nutrition starts early!

As you and your baby progress from liquids to solids and finger foods, pay attention to the foods you’re offering and the habits you’re establishing. Use our free Infant & Toddler Nutrition Guide to help. Also encourage family mealtimes this will have a positive effect of the development of children.

Infant/Toddler Nutrition Tips
At Northpoint Pediatrics, we understand that many parents have questions about feeding your infant. Check out our Child Health Resources to learn tips and advice about a wide range of issues affecting your children’s health and habits.
Baby girl with pony tail in white