A Guide To Feeding Your Infant
One of the many things your baby will learn in his first year is to how to consume solid foods. Though there is no exact time your baby is ready to make the transition, the guide below will help you identify signs when your baby may be ready to start solid foods, and which foods are most suitable at which age.
Newborn to 4 months
As your baby’s digestive tract is still developing, only give your baby breastmilk or formula. Breastfeeding will provide your baby with the best possible nutrition. However, if you are unable to, or choose not to breastfeed, the formula will also provide necessary vitamins and nutritional supplements for your little one.
4 to 6 Months
At 4 to 6 months, your baby may begin to display signs of readiness to consume solid foods. However, you may want to hold off at this stage as it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies be exclusively breastfed for around 6 months. If you would like to introduce solid food and see signs of readiness, ask your doctor whether you should wait.
Signs your baby is ready for solid food to include:
- Can hold his head up high
- Sits well in a high chair independently
- Displays interest in food
- Can make chewing motions and move tongue back and forth
- Shows significant weight gain (doubled birth weight) and weighs at least 13 pounds
6 to 12 Months
When you start feeding your baby solid foods, begin with very soft, runny foods like baby cereal, pureed vegetables, legumes, fruit or meat. Some good options are sweet potato, squash, tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans banana, peaches, chicken, pork or beef.
Start with only a teaspoonful. If it just dribbles out his mouth, you may want to try again in a few days time. If your baby accepts the food, you can increase to 1 tablespoon, twice a day, and gradually thicken the consistency by adding less water. Do not worry if your baby only eats a little, as breastmilk will remain the primary component of his diet and will provide sufficient calories for growth and function.
When your baby begins to pick up objects with his thumb and forefinger, he is ready to try finger foods. To prevent choking, make sure that anything you give him is very soft and small, like a tiny piece of very ripe banana, well-cooked potato, or baby crackers that melt away.
By 12 months your baby should have more teeth and be able to swallow easier. He will also be eating 3 to 4 times more than at 6 months. Do not give your baby any products made of cow., goat or soy milk. It is also a good idea to log what foods your baby has tried and introduce new foods one at a time in case he has an adverse reaction.
1 to 3 Years
You can continue to offer your child breast milk until they are 2 years or so, and make sure to give plenty of water when thirsty. At this stage, you should also begin to incorporate a variety of foods in your child’s diet. Make sure to include all 4 food groups: fruit/vegetables, grain, dairy, and meat.
Children under 3 are still at a high risk of choking, and should always be supervised while eating and drinking. Also make sure to cook or grate harder vegetables such as carrots, and chop food into smaller pieces. Avoid giving whole peanuts, nuts, seeds, or popcorn, fish with bones, hard candy, marshmallows, or large pieces of lettuce and spinach.