Watching your baby grow and develop is an exciting time -- but there's a lot you'll need to know throughout the process, including how, when, and what to feed your newborn.
During the first few months after birth, most experts recommend that babies get their calories and nutrition exclusively from breast milk or formula. As they progress quickly toward toddlerhood, though, introducing solid foods becomes a major milestone. These next few months, you'll be taking the first steps to helping your child develop lifelong healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips to ease the transition.
When's the Right Time?
After four to six months, you may notice signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. Keep an eye out for when your baby:
- holds his or her head steady and upright while sitting supported
- no longer pushes food out of his or her mouth
- chews and moves food to the back of his or her mouth and swallows
- weight is double birth weight after four months and weighs at least 13 pounds
- appetite increases despite more feedings of breast milk or formula
Introducing Solid Foods
When you're introducing solid foods, start small. Slowly increase the amount and frequency of new foods to satisfy your baby's hunger and curiosity. It's important to continue giving your baby breast milk or formula until he or she is a year old to maintain a steady supply of vital, easily digestible nutrients.
Stick to single-ingredient foods so you can minimize the risk of allergic reaction. If your baby develops diarrhea, rash, or vomiting after eating a new food, stop the food and consult with your pediatrician.
Making the Switch
Wondering when to begin the process? Here's a timeline for transitioning your baby to solid foods:
- 4 to 6 months. Blended and cooked fruits and vegetables in small amounts. Foods may be blended with water, breastmilk, or formula to thin if needed.
- 6 to 9 months. Mashed or blended cooked food. Good options include pureed vegetables, fruits, and meats. Try pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, applesauce, bananas, and pears.
- 9 to 12 months. By this age, your baby should be able to pick up objects with his finger and thumb. You can introduce finely chopped, ground, or mashed finger foods such as soft fruits and vegetables, soft rice, pasta, and ground meats, which will allow your baby to develop more fine-tuned eating skills.
- 12 months and older. By the time your baby reaches a year old, he or she will be ready to eat most soft foods. At this age, babies may also drink whole cow's milk.
With a road map for what foods you'll give your growing child and when, introducing solid foods can be easy and approachable for both you and your baby.