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Nourishing Advice on Starting Solid Foods - First With Kids - UVM Children's Hospital

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- You know, parents have been feeding me

lots of questions as to when is the best time

for their infant to start eating solid foods.

Well, let me see if I can provide some information

on this topic that's easy to digest.

First, you need to realize that it's not

until late in the first year of life

that the digestive system is matured

to maximally absorb nutrients and calories,

so solids, which can fill a baby up

but are low in calories and nutrients,

don't help your baby grow until

they're about a year old.

So, what are solids for in infancy?

Well, they're really only there in infancy

to help your baby develop a fondness

for tastes and textures.

Their main ongoing source of nutritional

growth in that first year of life

is through the breast milk you're giving

your baby, or if need be, the formula

they're drinking.

So that being said, when is the best time

to initiate solids for taste and texture?

Well, certainly not before at least 4 months

of age, but more importantly, when your baby

demonstrates good head and neck control

and is close to, if not sitting up,

which signifies the loss of primitive

sucking reflexes that make it difficult

for your baby to swallow anything

but a liquid without choking.

It's for that reason primarily,

and to reduce the risk of food allergies

if solids are started too early or too late,

that the American Academy of Pediatrics

recommends starting solids sometime

between 4 to 6 months of age.

Closer to 6 months if exclusively breastfeeding,

which is what I would recommend.

As to what foods to start with,

most nutritionists recommend starting

with a single-grain cereal, like iron-fortified

rice cereal, which can be easily digested

at 4 to 6 months of age.

And then moving up to pureed vegetables

and subsequently, fruits, saving the sweeter

tastes for last so your baby adjusts

to the non-sweet tastes of cereals

and vegetables first.

Don't introduce more than one new food

every few days to make sure that your baby

doesn't develop a food allergy to a particular

new food or an ingredient you're giving

him or her, so you'll know what the culprit

is if a new food is introduced.

If your baby doesn't like a food,

wait a week or two and try again,

since often the second or even third time

is the charm.

Hopefully, tips like this will go down easily

when it comes to knowing more about

when and how to introduce solids

to your baby.

This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First

from the University of Vermont

Children's Hospital reminding you

to always be first with your kids.