When to Introduce Solid Food to Babies

Is your baby ready for those first solid foods? Make sure the ones you’re introducing are safe for his young digestive system.

After several months of breast or bottle feeding, infants digestive systems and their coordination have matured enough so that they can try out solid foods at around six months of age. Just as important as when we offer our babies solid foods, is how we do this.

“It’s important to introduce foods slowly”, explains Registered Professional Dietician, Anne Birks. “If you introduce one new food every four or five days that gives you the opportunity to really determine if the baby is having a problem from the food or not. In some cases it takes up to 72 hours before a reaction to a food is visible. Some of the symptoms could be eczema, cold like symptoms with a runny nose, watery eyes, and diarrhea. The foods that tend to be most allergenic are nuts, citrus fruits and egg white.” Cows milk can also cause problems and according to Birks “it should not be introduced to a child until that baby is at least six months of age and is already receiving a variety of foods.”

Pediatrician Dr. William James says there is a definite preference for which foods you should introduce first. “Most babies should start on cereals, particularly rice cereal, partly for the iron content and partly to settle them down so that they go longer periods of time between feedings.” Dr. James adds that parents should start their infants on just a teaspoon of food and then gradually increase to three tablespoons once or even twice a day. “Most parents then go on to vegetables, then to the fruit and then subsequently meats, explains Dr. James.

And how much food is enough? Dr. James says that although there are no hard and fast rules, a good sign that your baby is eating well is a steady weight gain. “If a baby gains a half a pound a month from six months on, that’s an adequate weight gain as this works out to four to six pounds a year. That’s why parents whose children don’t appear to be eating a lot but are making this steady weight gain needn’t worry.”

Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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