Healthy Foods For Growing Children: Starting Solid Foods

By Marian Law, M.A., RD on March 15, 2007
Breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula is all the food your baby needs for the first six months (breast milk is the best choice). Some babies require supplementation before six months; talk to your doctor about this.

Most babies are ready for solid food when they are six months old. Each baby is different. Don't compare your baby to other babies. Follow your own baby's signs of hunger, fullness and interest in food.

Some Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Start Solid Foods:

  • Your baby holds her (or his) own head up.
  • Your baby sits with or without support.
  • Your baby likes to put things in her mouth.
  • Your baby makes up and down chewing movements.
  • Your baby breastfeeds more than 10 times per day, or drinks more than 40 ounces of infant formula.

It's It’s important to introduce new foods to your child’s diet, one at a time. After you introduce a new food, wait three to five days before you introduce another food. This way, if your child develops allergy symptoms, you will know which food caused them. Signs of food allergy are rash, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or breathing problems. Stop feeding your baby the food you think may have caused an allergy until you can talk to your baby’s doctor.

How To Start Solid Foods

Pick a time after a feeding when you and your baby are both in a good mood and she is not too tired. Start with a plain infant cereal fortified with iron.

Fifteen millilitres (one tablespoon) of infant cereal mixed with 45 to 60 ml (three or four tbsp.) of breast milk, water or infant formula is all you need to start. Keep the cereal very thin at first. As your baby gets used to cereal, make it thicker.

Start with rice cereal. Wait three to five days before you offer another cereal, and watch for signs of food allergy. Next, offer barley, oatmeal, soy, and then try wheat cereal. Do not give cereal with added fruits or vegetables at this time. Avoid infant cereal with added formula if your baby has never had infant formula. (Again, this is because it's important to add only one food to your baby's diet at a time.)

Offer cereal in the morning at first. After a few days, offer cereal after the evening feeding, too.

Feeding Your Baby

  • Sit your baby in a highchair. Make sure you use the seatbelt to keep your baby safe.
  • Use a small spoon with a long handle. Put cereal only on the tip. Hold the spoon so that your baby can see it. Then, put some on her lips. Put food in your baby's mouth only if she opens it.
  • Always feed your baby cereal from a spoon. Do not add cereal to bottles.
  • If your baby does not swallow the cereal, she may not be ready for solids yet. Wait a few days and try again.
  • Feed your baby the same cereal for five days before trying a different kind of cereal. That way you can watch for signs of food allergy.

How To Know When Your Baby Has Had Enough To Eat

When your baby has had enough to eat, she will stop opening her mouth when she sees the spoon coming. She may turn her head away or look bored. This is your signal to stop.

Sample Meal Plan For Your Six- To Seven-Month-Old Baby

The following meal plan is only a guide. Your baby will know how much to eat and how often. Each baby is different.

Continue to breastfeed your baby on demand. If you are using infant formula, give your baby four to six feedings of iron-fortified infant formula on demand. Offer 175 to 250 ml (six to eight oz.) of formula each time, and no more than 900 to 1,200 ml (32 to 40 oz.) per day.


Time of day

What to feed your baby
early morning
  • milk feeding

morning
  • milk feeding
  • 30 to 45 ml (two to three tablespoons) dry infant cereal mixed with breast milk, water, or infant formula

noon
  • milk feeding

early evening
  • milk feeding
  • 30 to 45 ml (two to three tablespoons) dry infant cereal mixed with breast milk, water, or infant formula

night
(may not be needed)
  • milk feeding



Note: Cereal should be thin and runny when you first start giving it to your baby.


Content provided by The Canadian Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia




By Marian Law, M.A., RD| March 15, 2007

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