Starting Solid Foods - Boys Town Pediatrics

Infants are usually ready to introduce something beyond breast milk or formula at an age of

about four to six months.

The exact timing depends on a few different things.

One thing is their muscular control.

We need a baby to be strong enough in terms of truncal tone to hold their head up well

and turn their head side to side.

That’s how they are going to let you know when they are interested to keep eating or

be done eating.

Also social aspects to eating are very important.

When we see a baby that is watching their parents or siblings eating and doing a lot

of open mouth, big eyes, that’s a good sign they’d like to try as well.

One decade ago we started every baby on an infant cereal like a rice cereal or a baby


Those days have gone away.

The American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendations to no longer specify

that the first food should be a cereal like that.

So usually we have parents start now with a pureed fruit or vegetable or even meat.

When you first start feeding your baby you just pick one time a day and do it that one

time per day consistently for a couple of weeks.

Some babies love it right away and they take to it and you can quickly move to twice away.

Other babies are going to spend that first week or two, just sort of tongue thrusting

and spitting the food back out at you and it’s a sign that you just need to keep practicing

so they can get the hang of it.

Somewhere between the ages of six and nine months a baby will be ready to finger feed

where they actually pick up the food themselves and place it in their mouth.

A lot of times those first foods are going to be really soft well cooked vegetables or

sort of soft squishy slimy fruits.

Things I’ll have parents try will either be like steamed broccoli florets where you

just cut, kind of just place the broccoli florets on the tray for the baby to pick up

or a slimy fruit like a very ripe banana where you can kind of cut into little pieces or

even mandarin oranges, just cut the segments into two or three pieces and those can be

great to pick up.

They usually do best with a soft texture first which is going to slide down and be less likely

to make them gag or choke but they’ll be quickly ready to try something a little more

dry as well.

Those baby puffs are a nice product because they are dry and easy to pick up with their

little fingers and when they get into their mouth they kind of dissolve with all the saliva

and turn into an easier mush to swallow.

When solid food is first started at four to six months, it is really considered a complementary

source of nutrition and it’s not providing a lot of the nutrients in terms of their protein

and the fat and the calories so at that point we still want them to take the normal amount

of bottles or nursing sessions a day.

As a baby gets older and starts eating more foods and incorporates more finger table foods,

that is when you may actually see a baby drop one nursing session a day or take smaller

bottles or drop one whole bottle a day.