There's a lot to learn about nourishing baby in the first 12 months! First, there's figuring out what works for you and your family— breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination of both. Then, just when you've gotten the hang of baby's eating schedule, the topic of introducing solid food starts to pop up. And it's not a milestone you want to rush!
So, when is baby ready for solids? Dr. Greene strongly encourages parents to look at their baby, not a calendar, to determine if it’s time to introduce solids in addition to breast milk or formula. He also recommends waiting to introduce solids until baby is at least four months old. Until then, baby’s digestive system simply can’t handle anything other than breast milk or formula. Once it’s time, though, you can begin filling out your baby’s diet with the complex nutrients and flavor profiles of real, wholesome—and preferably organic—foods. Babies benefit from the exposure to new flavors and textures that solid foods provide. To ease the transition, you’ll ideally continue to breast- or formula feed your baby while starting solid foods.
As you introduce the first solids to your baby, there are a few foods you will want to avoid. You should avoid honey and raw dairy completely until at least one year to avoid potential exposure to botulism spores. Raw and undercooked fish and raw eggs should also be avoided. Since choking hazards are also a concern at this age, start with thin purees and move up to thicker and chunkier textures as baby progresses. Stay away from foods that are hard or large in size, such as popcorn and grapes. Vegetables larger than a pea can get stuck in your baby’s throat.
So, what are the signs that show that baby maybe ready for solids? Here are four developmental milestones from four to six months that will let you know when to start introducing solids to your baby:
- Baby is able to sit up or start to sit up
- Baby can coordinate all the muscles involved in swallowing
- Baby shows interest in eating through body language. For example, she may lean forward to look at you when you are taking a bite, or fuss and wriggle when she sees you eating
- Baby seems hungry even after she has had enough breast milk or formula. Often this starts to happen after baby has reached 13 lbs, or double her birth weight
As baby nears four or five months of age, his or her color vision becomes strong. You may notice your little one staring at what you’re eating — that’s why colorful food is key at this stage! Be a role model for your baby’s Nutritional Intelligence by eating a rainbow of healthy foods. Little ones are more likely to try a food if they have seen their parents eat it just one time!
Once the signs are all there, mashed avocado, banana or cooked sweet potato always make for a great first food. You can also try Plum's line of organic Baby Bowls for culinary-inspired recipes that take the flavor up a notch!
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Check out Plum Organics® Resource Center for more insight and ideas for baby’s first bites. The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.