Breastfeeding A to Z

How To Introduce Solid Foods

Once your baby is exhibiting those signs of readiness for solid foods:

  • Sitting supported
  • Interest in what you are eating and drinking
  • Increased hunger
  • Ability to take food from a spoon (baby’s tongue doesn’t keep pushing things out)

And you’ve discussed the topic of solid foods with your healthcare provider, you may have some questions about “how” to give your baby solid foods.

From a nutritional standpoint, a full term baby will start to run low on iron stores at about 6 months of age.  You have given your baby iron stores during pregnancy and breastmilk has very absorbable iron.  However, those are starting to be used up or not meet all of your baby’s needs.  Your baby will need another source soon.

So usually an iron source is the first solid food provided either from iron fortified baby cereal or meat. (1)  The next nutrients needed in greater quantity will be Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  Both are present in a variety of fruits and vegetables, so that will be the next type of foods to add to baby’s diet.

The pattern of introduction for solid foods is usually 3-5 days of a single food.  Or one new food a week if that helps you keep track.  This allows enough time to see if your baby has any reactions to a new food item.  This way you won’t have to play detective if your baby does react to a new food.  This allows enough time in between adding a new food to figure out what food is causing the problem.  If your baby develops any type of skin rash, has changes in their breathing or congestion, after introducing a new food, stop the food and check with your healthcare provider.

The food should just have a single ingredient and possibly water.  You can mix in breastmilk to cereal for example.  If you have used baby formula that can be added as well.  DO NOT add cow’s milk or other milks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends withhold cow’s milk and other “milks” not formulated for infants during the first year of life. (2)

Please remember to check with your healthcare provider if they have any specific instruction for how you begin and add new foods or if you have questions.   

If your family has a history of allergies, your baby was preterm or has had other chronic health issues you need to have further information on introducing solid foods to your baby.

If you are dealing with a family history of allergies or an allergy concern you may find Food Allergy Research & Education a great resource.    http://www.foodallergy.org/

References:

  1. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 271.
  2. Kleinman, RE, Greer FR, Pediatric Nutrition, 7th edition, Elk Grove Village, IL, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014, p 135.