Introducing Solids to Your Baby
Such a controversial topic in many households…when should you start introducing solids to your baby? What age is the correct age to start cutting back on breast milk or formula and start giving your baby cereal, and other stage one baby foods? What are the signs that your baby is ready for solids? And what is the best way to introduce solids into your baby diet?
When To Start
Back in the 60’s parents were starting their babies on baby cereal and stage one food as early as 2-3 weeks old. Over the years the recommended age to begin babies on stage one foods has been pushed back to two months to four months, and is now set between four and six months. If your baby is exclusively breastfed most pediatricians don’t recommend starting solids until he is six months old. Your breast milk naturally provides and the nutrients and vitamins to help your baby grow. The timing is dependent upon many things that are unique to your baby, so as your baby’s pediatrician what his opinion is and why, before you decide.
How Will You Know Your Baby is Ready
As you will come to learn, the key to knowing your baby and understanding his wants and needs will be to watch his signs. There are many signs and developmental milestones that your baby should hit before he is ready to begin eating solids. Some of them include:
- Being able to hold head up and sit upright
- Absence of the extrusion reflex (the natural reflex babies have to push foreign objects out of their mouth)
- Reaching at least 15 pounds
- Starting to make chewing motions with their mouth
- Reaching for your food
This doesn’t mean that your baby can reach one of these milestones and be ready for solids, or has to reach ALL of these milestones before you can start him on solids. Some babies who are big when born may hit the 15 pound mark within the first two months, but they are probably not sitting on their own yet. Some babies who can sit can’t necessarily chew yet. Some babies will reach for your food and make chewing motions with their mouth, but may be on the petite side only weighing 10-12 pounds. Along with your pediatrician you should weigh your baby’s progress and determine when he is ready to start on solids.
How To Introduce Solids
When introducing solids you should start slowly with thinned down baby cereal mixed with either breast milk or formula. Most pediatricians suggest starting with rice cereal as there are rarely allergies related to this. Once your baby has mastered cereal, start introducing more of the stage one vegetables. It is suggested that you start with veggies because they are not sweet and will not make your baby start craving sweet foods. When you do introduce a new food, refrain from introducing more than one new food a week. This will help you determine what foods your baby likes or doesn’t like or has an allergic reaction to if a rash appears.
When introducing your baby to solids check with your pediatrician, watch for your baby’s clues and above all else remain patient. Remember this whole eating thing is much newer for your baby than it is for you and is a learning experience for both of you.
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