Until then, breast milk and formula should be your baby's
only source of nutrition because they are more balanced in nutrients than any
Learning to eat with a spoon may take some time. Your baby
won't lose the inborn reflex to push his or her tongue outward in response to a
touch until the third or fourth month of life. The child should also be old
enough to sit up and turn away from offered food. If your child still sticks out
his or her tongue when you offer food with a spoon, wait a couple of weeks
before trying again.
At each well-child visit in the first year your doctor
will advise you about introducing solid foods. Most doctors recommend giving a
single-grain, iron fortified cereal, such as rice cereal, as a baby's first
solid food, because babies tolerate it well. Give your baby only baby cereal for
about 2 weeks to I month before introducing another kind of food. Then add one
food at a time, waiting a few days to a week before offering another food, so
you can see whether the new food causes a digestion problem or allergy. Don't
rush the introduction of solids; your baby is still getting the most important
nutrients from breast milk or formula. Here are some tips for starting your
infant on solid foods:
Strap your baby into an infant seat or a high chair; it's
easier to feed a baby if you have both hands free.
- Cover your baby's shoulders and chest with a large bib
that has a pocket to catch any dribble. Put newspapers or a plastic mat under
the high chair to make cleanup easier.
- Use a baby spoon; some come coated with nibber or
Older babies may enjoy spoons specially designed for
babies to grasp.
- For the first few times, give your baby a little breast
milk or formula before offering solid foods. Extreme hunger may make your baby
impatient and reluctant to try anything new or too frantic to settle down to
- Place a small baby-spoonful of food on the middle of
your child's tongue. Initially, your baby may want just a taste but will
gradually accept a few small spoonfuls, eventually working up to about 2 to 3
tablespoons of each food per meal.
- End the meal when your child shows that he or she is no
longer hungry by turning away from the spoon more than once. Don't worry that
your child did not finish the portion of food you prepared.
After introducing cereal to your baby's diet, introduce
puréed or strained foods-starting with fruits and vegetables at 5 or 6 months of
age and strained meats at about 6 months of age. You can start meats later to
minimize the risk of food allergies triggered by protein. Don't give up on
vegetables if your child seems to not like them.
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