IMAGE Babies often hit one of their growth spurts at six months. Around this time, it may seem that your little one just can't eat enough, and you may be wondering if now is the time to add some solid food. Here are some guidelines for knowing when your baby is ready for solid foods and how to introduce them.

A baby's growth from 5-8 months will allow for many changes in food intake. Breast milk or iron-fortified formula still needs to be the main part of a baby's diet. Solids may be started at this time.

Starting Solids

Solids do not help young infants sleep through the night. Starting solids too soon can:

  • Cause choking
  • Be hard for your baby to digest
  • Increase the risk of developing allergies
  • Prevent your baby from getting enough breast milk or formula—Breast milk or iron-fortified formula should continue to be your child’s most important source of nutrients until age 12 months.

To find out if your baby is ready for solid foods, look for these signs:

  • Holds her neck up in a steady position
  • Sits up on her own (without support)
  • Opens her mouth to eat food when you offer it to her
  • Moves lower lip in when you take the spoon from her mouth
  • Is able to hold the food in her mouth and swallow it
  • Is interested in the food that people are eating around her and reaches for food

Tips for Feeding Your Baby Solids

To help your child learn to eat solid foods, remember the following:

  • Choose a time when your baby is rested and happy.
  • Have your baby sit up.
  • Feed all food from a spoon.
  • Add only one new food at a time. For example, do not mix fruits and vegetables.
  • Give your baby plain, strained foods. Do this for meat, fruits, and vegetables that you are going to serve.
  • Your baby does not need salt, grease, fat, sugar, or honey added to foods.
  • Homemade or purchased baby foods can be used.
  • Try finger foods like crackers, dry cereal, and teething biscuits.
  • Make sure the food is not too hot.
  • When opening jar food, listen for the pop. Avoid using jars with lids that don't pop.
  • Give small portions of food. Throw away leftovers, and do not put food back in the jar as this may make your child ill.

Other key points:

  • To protect teeth and begin weaning, always offer juice from a cup.
  • To prevent choking, always hold your baby when feeding from a bottle.

Feeding Schedule: 5-8 Months

Age Food and Daily Amount
5-6 months Breast milk: on demand—Your baby may need an iron supplement (given as drops) until he starts getting enough iron from food sources. A vitamin D supplement may be needed, as well. OR Iron-fortified formula: 4-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each—If your baby is not eating enough vitamin D fortified formula, he may need a supplement. Infant cereal: 2-4 tablespoons
starting at 6 months Fruits/vegetables: 2-4 tablespoons, twice daily Meat: 1-2 tablespoons
7-8 months Breast milk: 3-5 feedings, or on demand OR Iron-fortified formula: 3-5 feedings of 6-8 ounces each Infant cereal: 4-6 tablespoons Infant juice: 2-4 ounces (from cup only) Fruits: 1-2 tablespoons Vegetables: 5-7 tablespoons Meats: 1-2 tablespoons Finger foods: One small serving (eg, toast, crackers, teething biscuits, plain dry cereal)

When giving your baby finger foods, watch your baby very carefully for choking. Be extremely careful or avoid foods that may increase the chances of choking, like hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, seeds, popcorn, and nuts (especially peanuts).

Suggestions When Using Solid Foods

Cereal
  • Start with single-grain cereal (eg, rice cereal).
  • Wait until your baby is six months old to try other kinds of cereal.
  • Start by making the cereal thin—mix one teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
  • As baby gets older, make it thicker—mix one tablespoon dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or iron-fortified formula.
Meat
  • Use plain, strained meats when starting. If meat is too thick, thin with breast milk, iron-fortified formula, or meat juices.
  • Avoid meat and vegetable combinations.
Fruits and vegetables
  • Start with pureed fruits and vegetables.
  • Start with single, plain choices.
  • Don't serve fruit "desserts."
Drinks
  • Continue breast milk or iron fortified formula for the first year of life.
  • Do not give juice to children younger than 6 months.
  • Your baby can start to drink water at 6 months.
  • Have your baby use a cup, not a bottle.
  • Use only 100% juice, not flavored fruit drinks like Kool-aid, punch, or cola.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics

    http://www.aap.org/

  • Family Doctor.org

    http://familydoctor.org/

  • Canadian Paediatric Society

    http://www.cps.ca/

  • Dietiticans of Canada

    http://www.dietitians.ca/

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