Starting Baby on Solids

By about 6 months, breastmilk and formula alone are no longer able to provide the entire range of food components necessary to meet all of your baby's needs. Though they are still an excellent source of nourishment, they must be supplemented with solid foods which contain the extra calories, iron, and other nutrients your baby's growing body now needs.

When should I introduce my baby to solid foods?

Most doctors agree
that solid food can begin to be introduced into a baby's diet around 4 months,
regardless of how much milk the baby is taking. Feeding your baby solids before
4 months isn't recommended, as his intestines aren't mature enough yet to digest
solid food. Swallowing food is also difficult for a baby younger than 4 months
because of inadequate saliva production, undeveloped mouth and swallowing coordination,
and weak head and body control. By the fourth month, a baby's digestive system
is mature enough to handle solid food, and is able to absorb nutrients supplied
in solid food.

What kind of solid food should I start with?

Commercial baby
cereals (such as Pablum) are a good first food - they are heavily enriched with
iron and important B vitamins, and are specially designed for a young baby's
delicate digestive system. They are also convenient, as they're pre-cooked;
you need only add water, breastmilk or formula, depending on the brand. If you
choose to use commercial cereals, be sure to read and follow mixing instructions

Single grain cereals should be introduced first as they're easily
digested, and are an important source of iron. Plain rice cereal is usually
well-tolerated and so is often recommended for the first cereal. If your baby
tends to be constipated, avoid rice cereal. Opt instead for oatmeal cereal,
which has a slightly laxative effect. Cereal should be mixed thin at first until
your baby is comfortable with this new food, then mixed thicker as directed.
Serve it to your baby with a feeding spoon or other small spoon which fits easily
into his or her mouth.

At first, start with one teaspoon of cereal in the morning,
and one at supper. Gradually increase the quantity if your baby responds well
to the food. Try a variety of fortified cereals, one at a time for a week each,
so that your baby can get used to each new taste and sensation. Watch for any
adverse reactions.

My baby pushes the food back out of her mouth. Does this mean she doesn't
like it?

No, this doesn't mean she dislikes the food. It's
a natural reaction for your baby to push out her tongue when something is put

in her mouth. This "extrusion reflex" is present until about 3 or 4 months of
age. She hasn't yet developed the control to push it to the back of her mouth
so that she can swallow it - something that will come with practice. It may
take a week or more to develop this coordination. In the meantime, it may help
to feed her only a small spoonful of cereal at a time.

When can I start introducing other foods?

Once your baby has become accustomed to cereals, at about 6 months,
try introducing her to bland pureed vegetables such as peas or carrots. After
a couple of weeks, you can try a variety of fruit purees, although it's recommended
that you introduce fruit only after your baby has become used to vegetables.
She may not be interested in vegetables if she has already become accustomed
to the sweeter taste of fruits. Fruit purees can be followed in later weeks
by pureed poultry, meat, tofu or cottage cheese.

Commercial strained baby foods
are convenient and popular, but by around 6 or 7 months, your baby can probably
handle table foods which have been properly prepared. All home-prepared foods
should be pureed until your baby develops adequate mouth coordination to mash
or chew more textured or lumpy foods, at around 8 months of age. Transition
to lumpier or more textured (but still soft) foods should be gradual, and pieces
of food should never be large enough to lodge in your baby's throat and cause

Some foods are not recommended during baby's first year. Be sure to
consult your doctor about which foods are appropriate for your baby.

Some tips for successful feeding:

Try to introduce new foods under favourable and
pleasant circumstances - not in a hurried or tense fashion, or when your baby
is overtired. If your baby isn't interested in eating, don't force her; her appetite
will return when she is hungry. Though she may not eat a lot at one meal, she'll
probably eat more at the next.

If your baby seems to dislike a particular taste
or type of food, don't force it on her. Wait, then try a little bit again the
next day. If she still isn't interested, move on to other foods. After a month
or so has passed, introduce it to her again, perhaps prepared differently this
time. Her tastes may have changed in the meantime, or she may have forgotten that
she didn't like this food earlier. If she still rejects it, leave it alone. Her
tastes may change as she gets older, or she may never like this particular food.
Forcing it on her can turn eating into a battle of wills, which can in turn lead
to eating disorders. A better approach is to offer other healthy food alternatives.

The information provided in this site

is designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace the
advice and care of your child's physician, nor is it intended to be used for
medical diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that your child has a medical
condition, always consult a physician.