What Should I Know About Feeding a Baby Solid Food?

Nychole Price

Adding solid food to your child's diet is a big step in their development. This transition usually takes place when a child is around six months of age and breast milk or formula isn't satisfying his hunger. This step is often taken apprehensively, due to the possibility that your child may have allergies to certain foods. Another fear parents may have is the risk of choking. There are several things you can do to make the transition to solid food easier on everyone.

Feeding a baby more than they can handle can cause weight problems.
Feeding a baby more than they can handle can cause weight problems.

Start the transition to solid food by adding one new food, per week, to your child's diet. Avoid foods that are known to be highly allergenic, such as peanut butter, corn, strawberries, egg whites and shellfish. These foods shouldn't be introduced to a baby until after one year of age. Grapes and nuts should be avoided until after age two, as they pose a choking hazard. Visually inspect your child for any signs of an allergic reaction, which include a rash, watery eyes and runny nose.

When transitioning a baby to solid food, try introducing them to one new type of meal per week.
When transitioning a baby to solid food, try introducing them to one new type of meal per week.

Rice cereal is usually the first solid food parents introduce into their child's diet. It is iron-fortified and the least allergenic food. Other popular first foods include mashed bananas and sweet potatoes. Baby food can be purchased in jars or made at home, depending upon what works for your family.

Sit your baby upright in a high chair or infant seat, making sure she is strapped in to prevent falling. An infant carrier works well for babies who can't yet support themselves. Feed your child the solid food using a soft baby spoon. Place a small amount of baby food on the spoon and allow your baby to taste it. If she likes the food, and is ready for more, she will open her mouth, or react with excitement.

Clues that your baby is finished eating include pushing away the spoon, turning his head or holding his mouth tightly shut. Most babies only eat a couple of bites in the beginning because their stomachs are very small. Never attempt to feed a baby more than he wants to eat. This could lead to your child having a weight problem later on.

A baby's diet should be supplemented with breast milk or formula until the end of the first year. Babies don't eat enough food to supplement the vitamins and minerals they get from these. The easiest way to supplement your baby's solid food, in the beginning, is to prepare rice cereal with breast milk or formula. Many parents choose to continue supplementing longer than the first year, but that is a matter of personal choice.

Breastfeeding alone isn't enough for a baby at about six months of age.
Breastfeeding alone isn't enough for a baby at about six months of age.

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Discussion Comments

Kat919

@ElizaBennett - I didn't do much rice cereal, either, because I couldn't get my kid to eat it! I think our baby's first solid food was sweet potatoes in a jar. The pediatrician told us we should start on veggies or baby would never eat them, but apparently opinion is mixed on that and some say it's fine to start them on fruit instead. To make sure baby was getting enough iron (since I was breastfeeding - formula already has iron added), we introduced meat pretty early.

At any rate, it was amazing how much more sleep we got once we started on solids! And it's funny because the pediatrician told us that there was no evidence that solid food actually helps babies sleep longer, but it *seemed* that way for us.

ElizaBennett

The thing about rice cereal is that it has essentially no nutritional value. The only thing I ever used it for was occasionally to thicken my homemade baby foods, if they came out too thin.

There are really as many different ways to introduce solids as there are babies. One of mine started on solid baby food earlier, closer to five months, and needed very, very smooth foods. For the first couple of months, he could eat only jarred food or things that I could make very smooth at home. Fortunately, it was summer and the farmer's market was open! So I did a lot of homemade peaches and zucchini with summer squash, for instance, both of which puree very smoothly.

But my daughter waited a little later, until a bit past six months. And she was ready right away for things with just a bit more texture, like mashed avocado. (Which makes a great early baby food as it has a lot of healthy fats.)

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