The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the introduction of solid food between 4 months and 6 months of age. It is very important for parents to know that there is not one single way to introduce baby food or advance baby food. With that being said, I am going to give you an example of how to introduce baby food to your infant that I have found to be successful.
First, start with rice cereal with iron for a couple of weeks. Rice is a good starter food and is generally well tolerated. It might take a little bit of time for your infant to get used to the spoon (you might notice your infant tongue thrusting). Once he or she masters the spoon, we are ready to start on the Stage I foods. Stage I foods are in the smallest jars and are the most liquid in consistency. If you would like to make your own baby food that is perfectly fine. My advice is to model the consistency after the consistency of baby food in the store. Normally, I tend to start with vegetables before fruits. My experience has been that starting with the sweet stuff makes eating vegetables more difficult. I also normally introduce a new food every two to three days. That way if your infant has a problem with a food you will be able to pinpoint the problem food. For the first two months, the goal is to get the infant on two meals a day. Rice cereal for breakfast and the Stage I foods for dinner. There are only a few Stage I foods and it doesn’t take long to go through all of the fruits and vegetables.
After two months, we are ready to move up to the Stage II foods and to three meals a day. The Stage II foods are in bigger jars and are thicker in consistency. At this time, we can branch out a little bit if you would like. Yo Baby yogurt is a good source of calcium and can help break up the monotony of rice cereal for breakfast. You can also try some of the different kinds of cereals. Stage II meats can also be introduced at this time. They make Stage I meat but I could never bring myself to feed my child liquid turkey.
At nine months of age, we can try some Stage III foods. Now, many of my patients cannot do Stage III foods because of their lumpiness. I remember watching my son throw up Stage III spaghetti, and I’m still scarred by the experience. Around nine months, you will notice that your child has developed a pincer grasp where he or she can grasp things between the thumb and forefinger. At this time, it is o.k. to introduce the Gerber fruit and veggie puffs which dissolve in the mouth. Once your child masters the puffs, you can try the cheerios which are gummed up and swallowed. The one food that I find that provides the biggest choking hazard is the Gerber Biter Biscuits. Infants gnaw on them until they get soggy and a large piece breaks off. I would stay away from them. If you need a teething food, I like the Gerber Zwieback toast. It is very messy but it doesn’t break off in large pieces as easily.
At one year of age, it is time to start transitioning to table food. It is also the time to be off the bottle and on a sippy cup. Keeping the child on a bottle promotes dental caries and dental malocclusions. I have always found taking the bottle away to be harder on the parents than on the child. Be strong! If your baby is formula fed, it is time to move over to whole milk or soy milk. If your baby is breastfed, keep breast feeding for as long as you want. At one year of age it is o.k. to diversify foods as long as we stay away from foods that are choking hazards like nuts, popcorn, etc.