When Baby Food Start?, When you’re about to feed your baby solid food for the first time, it’s important to be familiar with the most recent official recommendations from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). But it’s even more critical to know your child and to be flexible when it comes to the timing and choice of solid food.
When Baby Food Start
The formal guidelines by the AAP and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Starting solids before four months has been related to increased risk of obesity and future food allergies, while delaying solids beyond six months may lead to a deficit of certain nutrients in the diet, such as iron and zinc in breastfed babies, and delays in oral-motor function.
We recommend starting solids between four and six months of age and closer to six months if possible. When determining whether it is time to start a solid food adventure, be guided by your baby’s eating skills and body control. Here are some of the signs that your baby may be ready for solids:
- Your baby sits up with support. Not all babies can sit unsupported at six months. A couple of cushions on both sides of the high chair may help her be more comfortable. But if your baby is still not able to sit straight, consider waiting a week or two.
- Your baby has neck and head control and can hold them still.
- Your baby gives you cues. Is he is interested in the food you are eating? Trying to grab your spoon?
- Your baby can close her lips over a spoon.
- Your baby loses the thrust instinct and his tongue no longer pushes out food from his mouth.
- Your baby keeps food in her mouth and swallows it.
How to Start Baby Food
Finally, your baby is ready! You prepared some yummy food and cannot wait to introduce him to all the amazing flavors. Just a few reminders before that very first spoonful ends up in your baby’s mouth:
- Make sure your baby is sitting straight. A high chair works better than a recliner or baby bouncer. This way, your baby will be more comfortable when mastering this new way of eating.
- Put some food on your baby’s lips first to let him experience the texture and get curious about what’s coming.
- Always wait for your baby to pay attention before starting to feed. Do not put anything in a child’s mouth without her permission. It may be extremely tempting to just sneak a spoonful of food into her mouth while she is distracted, but that strategy may quickly lead to increased pressure at mealtimes. Many babies react to pressure by eating smaller amounts and being less interested in feeding.
- Let your child decide how much food he wants and whether he wants to eat. Some babies want to eat a lot of solid foods from the first feeding, while others want a teaspoon or two, and some are not interested at all. At this age, solid foods are not likely to contribute significant nutrition to your baby’s diet and even a small amount is an important exposure. Do not feel like he needs to finish a whole serving and do not feel pressured to serve a “typical” portion size. In the end, it is your baby who determines the amount he wants to eat at each feeding.
- Stop feeding immediately when your baby is no longer showing interest. Most babies make it clear that the meal is over by being more distracted by their surroundings, turning their heads away, and closing their lips. By pushing your baby to eat even a little more you may make meals unpleasant for both of you and potentially interfere with your baby’s ability to self-regulate.
- Try including the baby in family meals, even if it’s just “playing” with a few Cheerios, or perhaps eating tiny bites of the food you are having.
This will help him feel included in the family meal and learn to like the foods that you are enjoying.
Consider the first few months of starting solids as a“taste-training” period and set a goal of exposing your babyto as many flavors as possible.
What to Serve
By the time your baby is six months old, her stores of iron and zinc are diminishing and she also needs a source of vitamin C in her diet, so it’s important to provide her with good sources of these nutrients. Until recently, conventional feeding advice has been to start with a baby rice cereal and move on to vegetables, fruit, and other foods. And while purchased baby rice cereal is not a bad choice because of its high iron content and low likelihood of allergenic response, the recent recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to explore other nutritious options as well, such as vegetables, fruit, eggs, meats, and other cereals. All of these make excellent first foods.
Your baby may not like the flavor or texture of some foods at first, but don’t stop serving them to your child. Studies show that the more food experiences babies have in the first two years of life, the more varied a diet they eat as schoolchildren. And while starting with fruit probably doesn’t prevent babies from liking vegetables later, the introduction of solids is a perfect time to allow babies to experience the flavor of green vegetables and other foods with slightly bitter flavors. Your little one may not like it at first, but if you are consistent and keep offering green vegetables daily, your patience will pay off—now, and when many of your child’s buddies hit the picky eating stage around age two.