How do you know when your baby is ready to start eating solid foods? Look out for these signs and signals.
For months your baby has thrived with just breast milk or formula on the menu. Now that he's getting bigger, he seems to want more out of lunch than meremilk. When is the best time to introduce solid foods to your infant? Which foods should come first?
As you begin this new stage, it's important to understand the roles you each need to play so that he grows well and develops life-long healthy eatinghabits. Remember:
- You're in charge of making healthy, appropriate food available to your child in a way he can handle.
- Your child is in charge of what, when and how much he eats.
- He's both the learner and the explorer: you are the supportive, reassuring facilitator.
The newest recommendations are to introduce solids when your baby is about four to six months old. He may be ready for solids when he:
- Has doubled his birth weight and weighs at least 13 pounds.
- Makes mouthing movements as he watches other people eat.
- Is still hungry after eating a good amount of breast milk or formula.
- Doesn't push his tongue out at a spoon when you try to feed him.
- Pulls in his lower lip for food instead of sticking it out.
- Holds his head up on his own.
- Sits upright easily with some support.
- Follows food with his eyes.
- Closes his lips over food.
Reactions to food
Introduce new foods one at a time to see whether your baby has an allergic reaction or is sensitive to a particular food. Food reactions usually show up asrashes on the face or in the diaper area, by spitting up, or by loose stools. Babies don't need the sugar or the salt that adults eat, so don't add them toyour child's food, even though it may taste bland to you.
Always start with solids on a spoon. Never put solids in a bottle.
- Hold your baby in your lap when you start out. Be sure his head and neck are upright.
- Talk quietly. He needs to concentrate when he's starting out.
- Hold the filled spoon in front of your baby and wait until he opens up. Put a little food on his lip to tempt him if his mouth stays closed.
- Wait for him to pay attention to the spoon before you put it in his mouth.
- Stop when he shuts his mouth, turns away or arches.
- Let him touch his food. It's his way of finding out about it.
- Watch your own facial expression. If you snarl as you present pureed peas, your baby will wonder why he's getting that green stuff.
- Milk is still important, but give your baby solids first to encourage him to accept new foods.