Introducing Solid Foods FAQs

When can my baby begin solid foods?

Solid foods can be started when babies are showing developmental signs that they are able to sit and eat from a spoon. This usually occurs closer to 6 months of age, but can be as early as 4 months. Signs of readiness include:

  • Eating greater than 35-40 ounces/day
  • Shows significant weight gain (roughly double birth weight)
  • Shows interest in what you are eating: watches what you are eating, reaches for spoon, etc.
  • Is able to sit up well when supported and to take a spoon.

What foods should I start with?

There is no evidence that one food must be started over another, but in general, we recommend starting with baby cereal (rice or oat, oat tends to be less constipating). Mix 1-teaspoon cereal with 4-5 teaspoons breast milk or formula (this will be really runny, and can gradually be thickened). Fruits, veggies and other pureed foods can gradually be added into your baby’s diet once cereal is mastered.

How frequently should I introduce new foods?

New foods should be added one at a time to watch for allergic reactions – generally one new food every three days. Which foods should I avoid?

Prior to 12 months, avoid honey, raw vegetables and milk (cow or soy). Cheese and yogurt are okay. New studies show that early introduction of high allergen foods (peanut, egg, etc) around 6 months is shown to decrease rates of food allergies later in life – so introducing these foods is actually recommended. If your baby has severe eczema or there is family history of egg or peanut allergy, talk to your pediatrician prior to deciding how to introduce these foods.

Juice should be avoided in general due to high sugar content and low nutritional value. Water is also not needed for infants, because they should be getting adequate hydration from formula and breast milk.

How much food?

In the beginning, babies will continue to breastfeed or drink the same amount of formula that they did prior to starting solids. Babies may eat solids only once a day at first, but should gradually get into routine of two-three meals per day similar to their family members. When they start solids, they may only take a few teaspoons – this will gradually increase to roughly ¼ cup of each food group in each meal, but varies widely depending on the child.

When should I start finger foods?

When babies are sitting up well and can bring objects to their mouths, as well as have mastered pureed foods, they may be ready to try finger foods. This usually occurs around 9 months. Make sure finger foods are soft, easy to swallow and cut into small pieces. Examples of these foods include pieces of banana, soft crackers, scrambled eggs and well-cooked pasta.

Robin Snyder, MD from CCP – Moon, South Fayette, and Wexford.