Phase 1: Feeding Guidelines
Always follow a recommended diet from your pediatrician to supply a fully balanced diet to meet your baby’s nutritional requirements. Many doctors recommend beginning solids at 6 months. You can use a little common sense to determine the right time for your baby.
Typical signs that indicate your baby is ready for solids include:
- The ability to sit without help.
- Active interest in food that others are eating; watches people eat.
- Does not use tongue to push solids or spoon out of mouth.
- The ability to signal she wants to be fed or has had enough to eat.
When starting your child on solid foods, it is a good idea to introduce one food at time in order to trace the development of food allergies. You should wait 2 to 7 days between new foods to be sure your baby is not allergic. Signs of food allergies can include stomachache, diarrhea, skin rash, wheezing and vomiting.
- Consult with your pediatrician or health care provider if you have any questions concerning the introduction of solid foods.
- Breast milk and/or fortified formula should be continued until the first birthday. Cow’s milk should not be introduced until baby is at least 1 year of age.
- Always check with your doctor or health care provider if you think your baby is not eating enough of the right foods.
- Use a high chair or infant specific chair when feeding your baby. If your baby is sitting is upright, he is less likely to choke.
- Never leave your baby unattended when eating. If possible, feed baby with the family. This will get your child on a regular feeding schedule and enjoying a familiar routine.
- Be conscious of serving sizes and do not serve too much. A good rule of thumb for portion size is 1 tablespoon for every year of age.
- Do not get discouraged. Children’s appetites and tastes are finicky and change throughout development.
- When your baby is ready to begin solids, introduce vegetables first to encourage the acceptance of these flavors before introducing the sweeter tastes of fruits.
- Start with 1 tablespoon of a mild tasting vegetable like avocado or sweet potato. Gradually increase the quantity.
- Be patient. When introducing a new fruit or vegetable give your baby at least eight chances before you give up that food. Children often need to try a food several times before they will accept it.
- Try offering new foods when your child is hungry to avoid rejection.
- A soft spoon and plastic dish will make mealtime easier for your baby.
- Stir food well after heating to avoid hot spots. Touch-test the food’s temperature before feeding to your baby.
- Watch for signs that your baby is finished eating like turning his head away or not opening his mouth. When your baby signals the meal is over, it’s over. Do not encourage overeating.
- Once your baby has adjusted to pureed baby food and is showing signs of readiness, you can vary the consistency of the food. Begin with small, soft lumps in the pureed baby food and then move to mashed, ground or chopped foods. Textured and lumpy foods help your baby develop oral skills and muscle tone.
- Try adding new textures with pureed baby foods that your baby already enjoys.
- Juice should be given after regular fruit has been introduced. Try waiting until 10 months of age. Juice intake should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day for children 1 to 6 years of age.
- Around 8-12 months, add soft table foods and finger foods like dried toast, soft fruit pieces and cooked, chopped vegetables.
- Around 8 months, your baby may need additional protein sources like meat and beans.
- Mild spices like vanilla, garlic powder, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, mint, oregano, basil or lemon zest can add new flavors and interest to your child’s foods. Most pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is at least 8 months of age to add spices.
- Avoid hot dogs, peanut butter, nuts, popcorn and hard pieces of fruits and vegetables on which children can easily choke. These should not be given to children under 3 years of age.
Tips and Tricks
- Create a relaxing environment with the family during meals. Establish regular family times or patterns for meals.
- Remember, picky eating is a normal phase children usually outgrow. Offer a variety of foods and encourage your child to try at least a bite.
- Continue to introduce and encourage your child to eat a variety of nutritious foods.
- Try reintroducing rejected foods mixed with a favorite food to encourage acceptance.
- Pay attention to your baby’s natural cues and needs. Let your child decide when she is finished eating.
- Try not to overcook food. Overcooking can destroy a food’s flavor, texture, color and nutrient content.
- Instead of salt and sugar, add spices to add new flavors and experiences to your baby’s food. Salt and sugar encourage bad eating habits and taste preferences. Added sugar also increases your child’s risk for cavities.
- The less excitement you make over baby’s food the better. Encouraging baby with “yum” sounds is okay but you need to follow your baby’s cue and allow her to check out the meal for herself. Do not force food into your baby’s mouth. Wait for her to open her mouth to take the food.
- Look for “Fresh from Florida” fruits and vegetables. Regional and seasonal items are often cheaper and fresher.
- Keep mealtime as calm as possible – no television, only soothing music and soft conversation. Mealtime should never be a time of conflict over food or anything else.
Introducing Solid Foods : Suggested Timeline
- 6 Months (or first solid foods)
- Breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula
- Iron fortified single grain infant cereals (rice, oatmeal, barley)
- Ripe Avocados
- Ripe Bananas
- Sweet Potato
- 6-7 Months
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
- White Potato
- Yellow Squash
- 8-9 Months
- Collard Greens
- Honeydew Melon
- Cottage cheese, soft cheese, yogurt
- Pureed and well-cooked beans like lentils, black beans
- Mashed and well-cooked meat, fish, tofu, cooked egg yolk
- Finger foods like soft breads, peeled wedges of fruit, cooked vegetable pieces
- 10-12 Months
- Blueberries (pureed, not whole berries)
- Finely grated or mashed raw yellow squash, greens, sweet peppers
- Strips of tender lean meats
- Whole wheat breads, crackers, sugar-free cereals