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Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby

Does your baby open his mouth and reach for your food while watching you eat? Could it be time to start him on solid food? If your baby is 4-6 months old, can sit in a high chair independently and hold his head up, then he’s ready to try eating. But keep in mind that for the first 6 months you can exclusively breastfeed your baby..

Which Foods First?

4-6 months:
• Mix single-grain cereals with baby formula or breast milk, or water on occasion.
• Fill half a teaspoon when you offer your baby his first bite.
• Choose an iron-fortified cereal product, since babies are born with a natural reserve of iron that begins to deplete around 6 months of age.
• Babies are born with a natural reflex that makes them push out their tongue when something is put in their mouth, so if your baby is dribbling out the food, you may want to try again in a few weeks.

6-8 months:
• You can introduce pureed or strained fruits (bananas, pears, apples, apricots, prunes) as well as yogurt (whole milk or soy based)
• Strained or pureed vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes, avocados, squash)
• Wash all fresh vegetables and fruits, then boil, bake, or steam until it becomes soft.
• Protein: pea-sized pieces of cooked turkey, meats, chicken, boneless fish or beans such as lentils or beans.

8-10 months
• Babies are able to grasp food with their fingers and bring it to their mouth now, so they can try finger foods.
• Always make sure that anything he puts in his mouth is small and very soft.
• Well-cooked potato, ripe banana, baby crackers are considered a good choice.
• Fruits: peel and cook them first to avoid your baby to choke on them.
• As for dairies, try small amounts of any pasteurized cheese such as cottage cheese.
• You can try now egg yolks but not the whites.

10-12 months
• Baby can try eating most of the foods you eat now, if they are cut up or mashed properly so that he can safely chew and swallow.
• No need to avoid eggs, wheat and peanuts until after one year.
• Avoid whole cow’s milk, babies under 1 year old can’t fully digest cow’s milk, which can cause stomach woes and kidney problems
• Don’t serve honey until the age of one; some doctors say two years, since it can cause a dangerous illness called infant botulism.

Watch out for Allergies

• Each time you give your baby a new food to taste, wait 3 to 5 days before you offer another new one.
• If your baby has a food allergy it will be much easier to figure which food may have caused the problem.
• Most common foods that babies and children are more likely to be allergic to are peanuts, eggs, and shellfish.

How Much Should I Feed My Baby?

• At first he’ll still get most of his calories from breast milk or baby formula, so a spoonful or two might be all that he wants to eat, and even a few bites of solid foods are good practice.
• Once your baby gets full he’ll push away the spoon, turn his head, spit out and play with food instead of eating it.
• Don’t force your baby to finish his food if he is showing that he’s full.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian