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Tips on introducing your baby to solid foods

Introducing solid foods to your baby is a big milestone. Here are some tips on introducing your baby to solid foods, how to do it right, what to feed your baby and when to start.

When it comes to introducing solid foods, every baby is different. Some may be ready as early as 4 months old, while others may not be ready until they're 6 or 7 months old. The official recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months, then continue breastfeeding while introducing solid foods.

The best way to tell if your baby is ready for solid food is to look for these key signs:

- Your baby can hold his head up and sit upright on his own.

- Your baby has doubled his birth weight

- Your baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex, which is when she pushes food out of her mouth with her tongue.

- Your baby opens his mouth when you offer food

- Your baby can move food from the front of her mouth to the back.

- Your baby shows an interest in what you're eating.

- Your baby grabs objects and tries to put them in her mouth

Ready to start introducing solid foods to your baby? Here's what you need to know.

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What to Feed Your Baby

When it comes to introducing solid foods, start with single-ingredient items that are easy to digest. Introduce one new food at a time and wait three to five days before introducing another new food. Watch to see if your baby has any reactions to the new food, as this could signal allergy issues.

First food options include:

- Pureed fruits (such as applesauce or mashed bananas)

- Pureed vegetables (such as sweet potatoes or squash)

- Plain yogurt

- Baby food that's made with meat

- Baby cereals fortified with irons and vitamins

- Pureed eggs

- Pureed beans

- Pureed meat

How to Introduce Your Baby to Solid Foods

When you're introducing solid foods to your baby for the first time, start with a small amount (just a spoonful or two). If your baby seems hungry and wants more, you can always give them more. Don't be discouraged if your baby rejects it at first. After all, she doesn't know what this is so it may take several attempts to get her to swallow it. You may need to wait a few days or weeks and try again.

If your baby has a reaction to a particular food (such as rash, diarrhea, or vomiting), stop feeding them that food and talk to your doctor.

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Introducing Allergy-Causing Foods to Your Baby

There are some foods that are known to create an allergic reaction in some babies. The biggest offenders are

-Dairy

-Soy

-Wheat

-Peanuts

-Tree Nuts

-Eggs

-Fish

Some parents wonder if they should hold off on introducing these known allergy causes to their baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics says "no."

According to the AAP, there is no evidence that delaying these types of foods will prevent your baby from having a food allergy. However, they do recommend that if your baby has severe eczema or other known allergies, you have her tested for a peanut allergy before introducing this food.

Making Your Own Baby Food

Making your own baby food purees is a great way to know exactly what your baby is eating. It's also a lot cheaper than buying store-bought baby food. Here are some tips on how to do it right.

When you're making your own baby food purees, again, start with single-ingredient items that are easy to digest. You can make purees with fruits, vegetables, or meat. Be sure to remove all seeds and pits from fruits and cut vegetables into small pieces so they cook quickly.

Cook the puree until it's very soft. Consider steaming fruits and vegetables instead of boiling them, to help preserve nutrients. After your food is cooked or steamed, blend it until it's smooth using an immersion blender or regular blender.

You can freeze the puree in ice cube trays for later use, or feed it to your baby right away.

Here are a few kitchen items you might need to start making your own pureed baby foods:

- Cutting Board

- Chef's Knife

- Saucepan or steamer basket

- Blender or Immersion Blender

- Ice Cube Trays

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Setting Your Baby Up for a Lifetime of Good Eating Habits

Your baby has a lifetime of eating ahead of him. Start him off on the right foot with these good eating habits.

-Stay away from juices. The AAP recommends holding off on any type of fruit juice until after your baby's first birthday. Then, only give your baby 100% real juice, no more than four ounces a day, and never in a bottle. Serve the juice in a sippy cup, and never at bedtime when it can cause tooth decay.

-Always feed your baby when he is sitting up and not reclining

-Always feed baby at the table.

-Allow baby to handle a spoon, get familiar with it, and get messy.

-Start a solid family routine of meals together

If you're considering introducing your baby to solid foods, it's a good idea to have a chat with your pediatrician. She can help determine if your baby is developmentally ready to start solid foods and get you on the right track from the start.

Resources to Help Parents

Baby Led Weaning for Beginners & Beyond Facebook Group

Solid Starts: A Baby Food Revolution

The Big Book of Organic Baby Food: Baby Purees, Finger Foods, and Toddler Meals for Every Step by Stephanie Middleberg

Super Easy Baby Food Cookbook: Healthy Homemade Recipes for Every Age & Stage by Anjali Shah

 

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