When is baby ready? Your baby is ready for solids when she can do all of the following things:
• hold her head up
• sit with some support
• open her mouth to take food from a spoon
• close her mouth to keep food in, or close her mouth to show she is full
• grab and hold onto things
These things usually happen when a baby is around 6 months old.
First feedings First feedings are for learning. Your child will not eat very much at first. Her main food will still be breastmilk or formula, until she gets better at eating.
Here’s how to start:
• Try starting solid foods when your baby is in a good mood and not too hungry.
• Hold her on your lap, or place her in a high chair, facing you.
• Start with rice cereal with iron. Mix it with a little breast milk or formula.
• Make her cereal thin. It will be easier for her to swallow.
• Use a small child-size spoon, and place it near your baby’s lips.
• Offer her 1 or 2 spoonfuls at first. She will let you know if she wants more.
• If your baby doesn’t want to eat, or has trouble swallowing, she may not be quite ready. Try again about one week later.
• Never give your baby cereal in a bottle. She could choke.
Expect a mess. Your child may play with her food. This is OK. This is one way children learn about food. Don’t worry. She won’t play with her food forever.
Trying new foods after cereal
• Try new foods after your baby eats rice cereal well.
• Try beef, chicken or turkey. These meats are healthy for your growing infant after she is about 6 months old.
• Make new foods smooth and easy for your baby to eat. Strain or puree them.
• Offer her only one new food at a time, and wait 4-5 days before you start another food. This way, if your child has an allergic reaction, you’ll know which food caused it.
Swallowing easily Can your baby eat and swallow smooth foods easily? Try offering her mashed foods. Mashed carrots and mashed sweet potatoes are good choices.
Your older baby Your older baby will begin to eat soft food that has more lumps. Later she will be able to eat food from the family meal. But you will need to cut the food into tiny pieces.
Eating with the family Your baby can eat at the table with the family once she can sit up. She is learning she is part of the family.
Foods–healthy or not? Foods that come in packages often have many ingredients, including chemicals and added sugar. Added chemicals and added sugar are not healthy.
But you have choices. For example, you can cook meat yourself. That meat will be healthier than hot dogs and deli meats. You can mash your own potatoes. Your potatoes will be healthier than a box of mashed potatoes.
Feed your baby and your entire family fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy, such as milk and cottage cheese. These whole foods are healthy choices.
Is your baby a WIC baby? You may have questions about feeding your older infant. You can talk with your WIC educator about any questions you have. You also can attend a parents group and learn about keeping your baby healthy as she grows.