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.