Introducing Foods to Your Baby
When to start giving your baby solid foods
Breast milk or formula is the only food that babies need for the first 6 months of life. At about 6 months, you can slowly start to introduce solid foods along with breast milk or formula. But each baby is different. Ask your doctor when you can start feeding your baby solid foods.
Knowing that your baby is ready to eat solid foods
Your baby may be ready to eat solid foods when your baby:
- Is about 6 months old.
- Starts to get curious about foods. Your baby may reach for what you're eating and drinking.
- Can sit alone or with support.
- Has good head and neck control.
- Is able to hold small objects, such as toys or food.
- Can move food to the back of their mouth to swallow.
Introducing solid foods to your baby
There are many ways you can start feeding your baby solid foods. Finding what works for you and your family takes time and practice. Here are some ways you can start giving your baby their first solid foods.
- Think about how you'll feed your baby.
You can give your baby food that is blended, mashed, or soft and cut small. Maybe you'll feed your baby with a small spoon, or maybe you'll let them feed themself. The way you do it might vary by the meal.
- Start with one food at a time before combining them.
That way, if your baby has a reaction, you'll know what food is causing it. Try soft vegetables, iron-fortified infant cereals, proteins, and fruits. At first, give your baby food without salt and spices.
- Introduce foods that may cause an allergic reaction, but do it carefully.
Common food allergies in children are from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Giving these foods may help prevent food allergies. If your baby has severe eczema or egg allergy or both, talk to your baby's doctor before giving these foods. Here's how to start giving foods that may cause a reaction:
- Give a small amount of one food that might cause an allergic reaction. Mix this into food your baby has had before. For example, try mixing some peanut butter into oatmeal, or mix yogurt into applesauce.
- Add one new food that might cause an allergic reaction at a time. Wait a few days before you try a different one.
- Wait and watch for a reaction. Most serious reactions happen within a few minutes. A reaction could be a skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea, or swelling of the lips or face.
- Offer a variety of foods.
Think about the colors, textures, and flavors you offer your baby. Keep in mind that you may have to offer a new food many times before it's accepted.
Good first foods for your baby
There isn't one "best" first food for your baby. Instead, it can be helpful to think about the many first foods your baby will try. These foods can come from a jar or be cooked at home. Either way, make sure foods are served soft and chopped small for your baby to eat.
Here are some good first foods for babies.
These include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, tofu, beans, peas, and lentils.
- Iron-fortified infant cereals.
Try rice, wheat, or buckwheat cereal.
Think about offering the colors of the rainbow. Serve them as is, or mix them into other foods, such as pasta sauce, mashed beans, or cooked ground meat.
Also keep the colors of the rainbow in mind. Try mixing cooked fruit into cereals or yogurt.
Foods to avoid when introducing foods to your baby
When you start to feed solid foods to your baby, there are some things you want to avoid. Some foods aren't safe or healthy for babies.
Here's a list of foods to avoid for your baby:
- Foods that may cause your baby to choke. These include hot dogs, whole or chopped nuts and seeds, chunks of nut butter, popcorn, raw carrots and apples, and uncut grapes, berries, and cherry tomatoes.
- Honey. Babies shouldn't have honey at all until they're 12 months old.
- Unpasteurized or raw dairy products.
- Fish that's high in mercury. You'll want to avoid serving king mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, orange roughy, tilefish, and bigeye tuna.
- Foods and drinks with added sugars. Some examples include cookies, flavored yogurt, and juice.
- Foods and drinks that have a lot of salt. These include canned soups, processed meats, and frozen meals.