Introducing Solid Foods
After feeding your baby an all-milk diet for the first part of his life, his diet diversifies with the introduction of solid foods. Follow our tips to help your baby enjoy his new diet.
Seven Keys To A Healthy Diet
Here are seven keys to introducing and maintaining a diverse, healthy diet for your baby.
1. Introduce Solids In Stages
Moving to a diet of milk and solids happens in stages. Experts recommend offering your baby his first solid food between the 17th and the 26th weeks.* Do not hesitate to ask your pediatrician for advice during this new stage of your baby’s development. From six months, milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet the dietary needs of your baby, and its share of your baby’s diet gradually decreases.
To complete your baby’s new dietary needs, you can gradually begin to give him cereal and pureed vegetables such as carrots, green beans, spinach, zucchini and leeks, as well as fruit such as stewed apples, pears, bananas and apricots and strained meat such as beef or poultry.
Which Food, When?
The first step in deciding if your baby is ready for solid foods is watching her overall development. Can she sit with support? Turn her head away to show she is full? These and other signs will help you determine when she may be ready to start eating solids.
Learn more about food allergies at Gerber.com
With some foods, it’s best to wait till your baby is older to introduce it into their diet, as they may trigger an allergic reaction. This is the case, for example, with red fruits like strawberries (recommended to give to your baby from eight months only) or honey (recommended after the age of one).
From 7-9 months on, you can add animal protein in your baby’s meals. On the menu might be a spoonful of meat (chicken, turkey, veal or ham), fish (cod, salmon or tuna) or egg (yolk only).
From one year on, your baby can eat almost everything. He can enjoy new food such as pulses, black beans and cheese.
2. Introduce One New Food At A Time
To detect a possible allergy, offer your baby one new food at a time, then wait three days before trying another new item. This is the time it takes for an allergic reaction to show up. For example, Monday you might give your baby mashed carrots to try, and, on Thursday, pureed spinach.
3. Start With Small Quantities
Your baby will begin to eat everything you eat, but in much smaller portions. The capacity of his stomach is still limited; so don’t expect him to eat large quantities yet. In the beginning, for example, let him taste one spoonful of puree: that’s all he needs.
The same principle goes for meat: at 7-9 months, a baby can be satisfied with a teaspoon of meat or fish mixed well. You can gradually increase the amount to approximately 0.7 ounces per day at 12 months.
4. Vary The Textures
While starting to introduce your baby to solids, offer only smooth textures, mashed or pureed, to enable your baby to safely master swallowing rather than sucking. From around seven months of age, you can let your baby taste all his new foods mashed or pureed. Then, from around eight to 10 months, he can try small, soft, easy to chew pieces of food.
Try to vary how the food looks when you offer it to your baby. Evan infants like when every new little dish is a surprise, and the visual variety encourages them to try the food.
5. Use A Baby Spoon
Your baby's gums are fragile, so you need to feed him with a flexible spoon, the right size for his mouth. Avoid using small, stainless steel dessert spoons that could hurt him. If your baby refuses the spoon, be patient, and try again later.
6. Avoid Salt And Sugar
There is no need to add salt or sugar to your baby's meals, and you should also pay attention to any sugar he might consume, such as avoiding sugary drinks.
7. Listen To Your Baby
Don’t force your baby to eat solids – instead, follow his lead. If he refuses to taste a vegetable puree, try again tomorrow. Finally, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician.
* ESPGHAN: European society for pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition.