This is the age when most babies are introduced to solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends gradually introducing solid foods when a baby is between 4 and 6 months old, depending on your baby's readiness and nutritional needs.
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any solid foods.
How can you tell if your baby is ready for solids? Here are a few hints:
If your doctor gives the go-ahead but your baby seems frustrated or uninterested as you're introducing solid foods, try waiting a few days or even weeks before trying again. Since solids are only a supplement at this point, breast milk and formula will still fill your baby's basic nutritional needs.
When your baby is ready and the doctor has given you the OK to try solid foods, pick a time of day when your baby is not tired or cranky. You want your baby to be a little hungry, but not all-out starving; you might want to let your baby breastfeed a while, or provide part of the usual bottle.
Have your baby sit supported in your lap or in an upright infant seat. Infants who sit well, usually around 6 months, can be placed in a high chair with a safety strap.
Most babies' first food is a little iron-fortified infant rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Place the spoon near your baby's lips, and let the baby smell and taste. Don't be surprised if this first spoonful is rejected. Wait a minute and try again. Most food offered to your baby at this age will end up on the baby's chin, bib, or high-chair tray. Again, this is just an introduction.
Do not add cereal to your baby's bottle unless your doctor instructs you to do so, as this can cause babies to become overweight and doesn't help the baby learn how to eat solid foods.
Once your little one gets the hang of eating cereal off a spoon, it may be time to introduce a fruit or vegetable. When introducing new foods, go slow. Introduce one food at a time and wait several days before trying something else new. This will allow you to identify foods that your baby may be allergic to.
Your baby may take a little while to "learn" how to eat solids. During these months you'll still be providing the usual feedings of breast milk or formula, so don't be concerned if your baby refuses certain foods at first or doesn't seem interested. It may just take some time.
Kids are at higher risk of developing food allergies if one or more close family members have allergies or allergy-related conditions, like food allergies, eczema, or asthma. Talk to your doctor about any family history of food allergies.
Possible signs of food allergy or allergic reactions include:
For more severe allergic reactions, like hives or breathing difficulty, get medical attention right away. If your child has any type of reaction to a food, don't offer that food again until you talk with your doctor.
Also, do not give honey until after a baby's first birthday. Honey may contain certain spores that, while harmless to adults, can cause botulism in babies. And do not give regular cow's milk until your baby is older than 12 months because it does not have the nutrition that infants need.
With the hectic pace of family life, most parents opt for commercially prepared baby foods at first. They come in small, convenient containers, and manufacturers must meet strict safety and nutrition guidelines. Avoid brands with added fillers and sugars.
If you do plan to prepare your own baby foods at home, pureeing them with a food processor or blender, here are some things to keep in mind:
Whether you buy the baby food or make it yourself, remember that texture and consistency are important. At first, babies should have finely pureed single-ingredient foods. (Just applesauce, for example, not apples and pears mixed together.)
After you've successfully tried individual foods, it's OK to offer a pureed mix of two foods. When your child is about 9 months old, coarser, chunkier textures are going to be tolerated as he or she begins transitioning to a diet that includes more table foods.
If you use commercially prepared baby food in jars, spoon some of the food into a bowl to feed your baby. Do not feed your baby directly from the jar, because bacteria from the baby's mouth can contaminate the remaining food. If you refrigerate opened jars of baby food, it's best to throw away anything not eaten within a day or two.
Juice can be given after 6 months of age, which is also a good age to introduce your baby to a cup. Buy one with large handles and a lid (a "sippy cup"), and teach your baby how to handle and drink from it. You might need to try a few different cups to find one that works for your child. Use water at first to avoid messy clean-ups.
Serve only 100% fruit juice, not juice drinks or powdered drink mixes. Do not give juice in a bottle and remember to limit the amount of juice your baby drinks to less than 4 total ounces (120 ml) a day. Too much juice adds extra calories without the nutrition of breast milk or formula. Drinking too much juice can contribute to excessive weight gain and can cause diarrhea.
Your goal over the next few months is to introduce a wide variety of foods, including iron-fortified cereals, fruits, vegetables, and pureed meats. If your baby doesn't seem to like a particular food, reintroduce it at later meals. It can take quite a few tries before kids warm up to certain foods.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011
|American Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association|
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
|U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.|
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network FAAN is a nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about food allergies. Call: (800) 929-4040|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
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|The Senses and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Your baby is working on all five senses, understanding and anticipating more and more. How can you stimulate your baby's senses?|
|Infant Botulism Infant botulism can occur when a newborn ingests bacteria that produce toxins inside the body. It's very rare and most babies who do get botulism recover fully.|
|Growth and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Since your child's birth, the doctor has been recording his or her weight, length, and more - what's typical growth during this period?|
|Food Safety for Your Family Why is food safety important? And how can you be sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe?|
|Food Allergies Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it's important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions.|
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