As baby grows and develops during the first several months of life, their appetite is likely growing as well. Even though many babies are ready to be introduced to some solid foods around 4 to 6 months of age, parents should not feel pressured to rush this stage of development, as some babies are not ready to be introduced to solid foods until a bit later.
Parents should wait until baby is able to remain upright while sitting, and has good control over their head before introducing solid foods.
Good first foods to start your baby on once they are ready include thin cereals, and finely mashed and pureed fruits and vegetables that are easy to digest. It’s best to introduce solids slowly, one at a time, and in small quantities at first.
It’s best to use a small spoon that has a coated tip or scoop in order to protect baby’s soft gums and any teeth that are present. Place baby in the high chair to help them remain upright and reduce the chances that baby will start to choke when swallowing. Scoop up a tiny bit of food onto the end of the spoon and gently place it into baby’s mouth.
Baby may not be very interested in eating at first, and may spit the food out. If this happens, be prepared to try again a bit later. You will know that your baby has eaten all that they want when they begin to lean back in their chair, or if they push the food away.
Starting baby on solid foods is likely to be somewhat messy as well, so don’t forget to attach baby’s bib at meal time. Placing a drop cloth underneath the high chair to catch any spills can make clean up a bit easier.
A Growing Appetite
You can slowly thicken the thinned cereals and purees as baby learns to swallow. In the beginning, baby should eat about 1 to 2 teaspoons of solids each day, spread out over two feedings. By 6 to 8 months a day your baby will have likely worked up to eating around 3 tablespoons of soft solids twice a day.
Formula or breast milk should still continue to be baby’s major source of nutrition until 1 full year of age. During this time, it’s important to continue to offer baby as much formula or breast milk as they want to drink, and to begin meal times with these liquids.
Around 10 months to 1 year of age, baby will have likely progressed to eating soft finger foods, and between 1 year and 15 months of age baby will be able to eat nearly the same foods that are served to the rest of the family, while continuing the need for meats to be finely ground, and many fruits and vegetables to be mashed. By this stage, baby has likely progressed to eating solids for three full meals a day.
Things to Watch
It’s a good idea to only introduce new foods to baby one at a time, and to remain alert and watch for signs of a food intolerance or allergy. Any new, or unusual rashes, swelling and itching can be signs, as can vomiting, and diarrhea. Even something as simple as restlessness, difficulty sleeping, crying and extra fussiness can all be signs that something’s amiss, so make certain that you follow up with your child’s doctor should any of these signs occur.
Introducing solids into your baby’s diet is an exciting time. Not only is your baby getting to try out new tastes, textures, colors and smells, it is a sign that they are growing and developing. Don’t forget to take time to stop, enjoy and celebrate the progress that your baby is making as they pass these developmental milestones!