A baby’s introduction to solid foods is one of the most significant milestones they will reach. With so much information out there, what is the best way to start baby food? We’ve compiled a quick guide that will briefly cover everything you need to know about baby’s first foods.
When to Introduce Baby Food
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), solid foods should be introduced no earlier than four months. Most doctors recommend starting your baby on solid foods at around six months of age. There are a few key things parents should look for to determine if a child is ready to begin trying their first foods:
- Has the ability to sit independently or with support
- Shows an interest in food, such as opening the mouth when food is offered
- Tries to grasp food and other small objects
- No longer displays the tongue-thrust reflex
When all of these signs are present and your child is old enough, you can safely begin.
Baby’s First Foods
It is very important to start with healthy, soft foods that can be easily chewed and digested.
Pureed fruits, vegetables, and meats are the most common options for introducing new foods.
Some parents prefer to avoid pureed baby food and instead let their child experiment with feeding themselves real whole foods like fruits, vegetables, cheese, pasta, bread, or chicken.
Common first foods for babies include mashed potatoes, oatmeal, avocados, apples, bananas, squash, and sweet potatoes. In addition, fortified cereals or puff snacks made just for babies offer an alternative to pureed foods.
How to Start Baby Food?
Many parents choose to start their children off with soft, pureed foods such as prepared baby foods or cooked foods made at home. In fact, parent-initiated spoon-feeding is the official recommendation of the AAP. Advantages include less mess, parent-child bonding time, and the ability to control how much your child eats.
On the other hand, baby-led weaning (BLW) is another popular method of introducing solid foods to your little one. BLW focuses on introducing finger foods rather than starting with purees. This method gives your child more control over what they eat, when they eat, and how much they eat. Because your baby is not being spoon-fed, they are able to better learn how to chew and swallow on their own. They are also able to practice their fine motor skills by using their pincer grasp to self-feed. BLW also encourages kids to try a variety of textures and flavors.
No matter how you choose to begin feeding your child, it is important to introduce new foods one at a time, with a waiting period of at least two to three days between new foods to watch for any allergic reactions, digestive issues, or other adverse reactions.
Be sure to watch out for common choking hazards such as carrots or grapes, and carefully prepare foods for your baby that are safe for them to eat. For example, cylindrical foods like hot dogs and string cheese should be cut into short, thin strips rather than round pieces that could get stuck in your child’s airway. Always supervise your child during mealtimes and make sure they only eat while sitting completely upright.
Always offer your baby a variety of nutritious whole foods such as fruits, whole grains, yogurt, cheese, meats, and vegetables, and be sure to model a healthy diet to your children.
When in doubt, check with your child’s pediatrician in Littleton to see what type of diet is right for your little one.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s diet, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians in littleton.