Finally. It’s time to introduce more variety to your child’s diet. Your baby has been eyeing your food and reaching for your plate, making it impossible to eat dinner with a baby on your lap.
You’ve been anxiously waiting to place your child in their own high chair and sit back and relax. Okay, perhaps there won’t be a lot of relaxing.
Just as all new phases in baby’s life, starting baby on solid foods is brand new experience for both you and baby. To make the transition a little easier on you, we’ll try to cue you in on the basics of how to begin feeding your baby solids.
Signs your Baby is Ready for Solid Foods
- Your baby is 6 months’ old (in some circumstances, peditricians state that a baby can be between 4-6 months' old)
- Your child can hold their head up while seated in a high chair/infant seat
- Your child has good head control
- Your child opens their mouth when food is offered
- You baby does not automatically push solids out of their mouth with their tongue (the tongue-thrust reflex)
So now that you know your baby is ready for their first bite of food, what do you choose to start with?
Starter Foods For your Baby to Try
- Single-grain cereals. Start with 1 teaspoon of grain cereal, mixed with 4-5 teaspoons of breastmilk or formula.
- Pureed fruits, veggies, and meats.
- Finely chopped, ground, or mashed finger foods.
When food is first introduced, you can puree or smash fruits and vegetables to help your baby develop the tongue and swallowing motions of eating food. As your child progresses, you can add texture by leaving larger chunks in the pureed mixes.
You’ll want to avoid honey, cow’s milk, and other foods that pose a choking hazard (nuts, popcorn, dried fruit, and globs of peanut butter).
Always supervise your child during mealtimes, even when they become more comfortable and confident with eating. When your child does begin to cough and sputter, remember that children have a heightened gag reflex to prevent choking. When they are making noises, they are trying to work it out on their own. Young children do have smaller airways, which means their airways are easily obstructed, and food is the most common cause of infant choking.
So what can you do to help your child properly chew and swallow food without gagging?
- Cut the food into small pieces using a knife or cheese grater.
- Avoid foods that are easy to choke on.
- Offer water with the meal
- Teach your child to pick up one piece of food at a time.
With a little education, trust, and trial and error the transition to solid foods can be a fun process for both you and your child (next thing you know they'll be graduating high school).