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Introducing Solid Foods

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When should I start? Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend breast milk as the sole source of nutrition for baby's first six months of life. After that time, look for signs for readiness: Baby should be able to hold his head up and sit up on his own, show interest in solid foods by opening his mouth upon feeding and discontinue the tongue-thrust reflex- where baby's tongue will push out any food introduced to their mouths and have it run down their chin.

What should I start with? To keep tabs on possible allergic reactions, begin with only single-ingredient foods. Breastfed babies should first be introduced to solids providing iron such as iron-fortified single-grain infant cereals. Be sure to include foods with vitamin C soon after introducing iron-fortified options to help with the absorption of iron. Additionally, consider next options for breastfed babies to be a source of zinc such as meat-based infant food since both their iron and zinc stores will need replenishing around 6 months of age.

Other than these few exceptions, you can start with any healthy, nutritious, single-ingredient, thoroughly pureed food. As you add more foods, introduce them one at a time several days apart to identify any potential allergic reactions such as rash, diarrhea or vomiting.

How should I start? Slowly, gradually and patiently. In the beginning, breast milk or formula will remain your baby's primary source of nourishment; the goal is to work up to two or three solid meals a day by the time he or she is about one year old. But these first solid meals should be small, just a couple of teaspoons once a day. Increase quantity, frequency and thickness as your little one indicates they are, and their digestive system is, developmentally ready for it.

Be persistent, but not too persistent. It may look like more of the food is on your baby's face than in his tummy, or it might seem as if he doesn't like what you're offering. But it can take up to 15 tries before he gets used to a food, so keep trying! Do not force food on him if he's truly indicating he is finished such as turning his head away from the spoon or shaking his head no.