Your baby has finally hit that in-between stage of feeding where formula or breastmilk comes in a sippy cup more often, and the food on the table looks more appetizing to him or her. At the same time, you’re concerned about choking hazards and deciding which are the best solid foods for baby. And it’s only natural to watch out for possible food allergies. Plus, there’s the factor of getting enough vitamins and minerals. Above all that, when can babies eat solid foods to begin with? There are many questions.
So, when can babies eat solids? And most importantly, what are the best solid foods for baby to obtain the proper amount of nutrients? We’ve got the answers and some great ideas for starting you off with the most nutritious (and safest) solids along with a few other feeding tips for this stage.
As outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in an article published by the CDC, babies can start taking other foods, aside from breastmilk or formula, at 6 months old. Anytime prior to that would be too soon. He or she might feel rather uncomfortable or even have some tummy trouble if introduced to solids too soon.
Thus, you can watch for some these milestones that signal your child’s readiness to start eating solid food. These signs include:
- Grasping small objects
- Bringing these same objects towards the mouth
- Sitting up without help
- Maintaining control of the neck muscles and supporting the head
- Swallowing food completely instead of spitting it out
- Pushing food back from the front to the back of the tongue
Once your baby starts performing a few or some of these actions, then you know it’s time to bring out the solids.
When introducing solid foods to your baby, you’ll start off gradually. Although you’ve anticipated the excitement of watching your child try new things, ideally you should start with one single-ingredient food. Not only will you more accurately gauge your baby’s likes and dislikes, but you’ll also notice any allergic reactions or food intolerances.
Once you’ve introduced one specific food, you’ll wait 3 to 5 days before introducing another one. When starting out with this slow process, your baby will most likely come to enjoy a variety of solids that’ll make up a balanced meal.
Another important tip to remember when introducing solids for the first time, is to pay attention to quantity. Again, this helps your baby to avoid tummy issues such as gas or indigestion. This part of the process involves starting at 1 to 2 teaspoons of solids and slowly over time working up to 2 to 3 teaspoons depending on your baby’s age. Naturally, you’ll include breastmilk or formula with the meal.
For many parents, this part proves to be confusing. Which are the best solid foods for baby?
According to Dr. Tracy Agnese, a New York pediatrician and founder of Taking Care of Mom and Baby, starting out with vegetables, like butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach present a healthy, single-ingredient option along with fruits. At 6 months, you would start with the pureed form and then gradually work up to the steamed form of these foods as your baby reaches the 8-month mark. As stated, staying with one single-ingredient food works best as you go through this process. Dr. Agnese also mentions that at this age, you’re focusing more on helping your child develop the skill of eating solids instead of the consumption of the food itself. For example, instead of opting for fancy packaging, you can give your child the banana so that he or she can practice holding it.
Additionally, you can peruse through this list of best solid foods for baby that are categorized by age as noted by Esther Ellis, nurse and registered dietician.
- 6 months: infant cereal mixed with breast milk or formula; cooked and pureed vegetables; mashed avocado or banana
- 9 months: half-inch pieces of vegetables like green beans or squash; sliced or quartered pieces of fruit
- 12 months: small pieces of any cooked vegetable; small pieces of fruit; any mix of small portions of family’s meal
Also, keep in mind that all these age groups can have thoroughly cooked sources of protein such as meat, poultry, and beans. This starts with the pureed form at 6 months up to the finely chopped or minced consistency at 8 months. At a year old, babies can have any shredded, soft meat and fish.
When determining which of best solid foods for baby to start off with, consider staying on the side of healthy choices. When you avoid items like popcorn, bite-size candy, and honey, you’re also evading the choking hazards. (Unfortunately, this also means staying away from grapes for a bit longer.) Finally, you don’t have to concern yourself with food allergies since you’re introducing one food at a time long enough to observe for a potential reaction. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns about allergens, digestive health, or nutrition, you should contact your pediatrician.
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