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Starting a baby on solid foods can be fun, interesting and yes, hilarious. (Wait until you see some of the adorable faces your baby makes!)
When your baby is six months old, begin offering solid foods to complement the nutrition provided by your breast milk.
Start by choosing a time when your baby is alert but not too hungry. Offer solid foods before or after breastfeeding; you and your baby will learn what works best for both of you. Babies can enjoy mashed foods and food they can grasp with their fingers, even before their first teeth appear.
At first, offer solids two to three times per day, increasing to three to four times a day. The amount of food offered should be guided by your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. Breastfeeding continues to provide the main source of nutrition as other foods are introduced.
- Offer a variety of new foods including vegetables, fruits, grains or milk products like cheese and yogurt
- Never put cereal or other solids in a bottle
Babies’ iron stores begin to decrease around six months of age. This means that iron from iron rich foods is needed for healthy infant growth, development, and to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Iron is very important for brain development. Iron rich foods include:
- beef, pork, lamb, veal
- iron fortified infant cereal (choose a single-grain variety)
- chicken, turkey
- beans and other legumes
- eggs yolk
Signs that your baby is ready for solid food:
- Sits and holds her head up.
- Watches and opens her mouth for a spoon and closes her lips around the spoon.
- Does not push food out of her mouth with her tongue.
See Menu page for daily food suggestions for ages 6-12 months.
Babies give you signs to show their interest in eating. By watching for and responding to these hunger and fullness cues, you can help your baby be healthy, eat well and enjoy food.
A hungry baby:
- Opens her mouth when food is offered.
- Leans forward excitedly, kicks her feet, or waves her hands when food is offered.
A baby who’s had enough to eat:
- Closes his mouth when food is offered.
- Turns his head away when food is offered.
- Pushes food away (or throws it on the floor!)
Babies' appetites can vary from day to day. Sometimes they’ll eat a lot. Other times, they won’t have much interest in food at all. Follow your child’s cues for hunger and fullness. Never force a baby to eat.
Never give whole nuts, whole peanuts, whole grapes, popcorn, gum, marshmallows, cough drops or hard candy to children under four years of age. These foods are common causes of choking.
Eat together with your baby as often as possible
This is an excellent way to promote healthy eating and to develop their social skills. Your baby learns by watching you and studies show that children who eat meals with family members tend to eat more nutritious foods and do better in school.
Babies also do well with regular routines. Sitting down for meals and snacks at the same times each day provides babies with the structure they need so they can focus on eating a variety of foods and learning to feed themselves.
Keep meal times calm. Turn off electronics and put away other distractions like toys and books. Focus on being together and enjoying your meal.
Avoid grazing (eating and drinking all the time, including from a bottle or sip cup). Grazing between meals and snacks is an unhealthy eating habit that’s especially harmful to teeth.
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