When is Baby Ready for Solid Foods?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby will be ready to begin solid foods at about four to
six months. Your baby's digestive system is too immature for solid foods before 4 months. Until he is at least 3-4 months
old, his system lacks certain digestive enzymes, such as an enzyme called amylase, needed for digesting cereals (starches
or complex carbohydrates.) At 4 months his mouth and throat reflexes will be developed enough to let him swallow solid foods.
After 6 months your baby begins to need solid foods for some nutrients, such as iron, vitamin C, protein, carbohydrates, zinc,
water, and calories, and delaying food may cause delayed growth. It is important that your baby start developing eating and
chewing skills between 7-9 months. If you delay the introduction of solid foods past 8 or 9 months, your baby may refues textured
foods when you finally do offer them to her. Some exclusively breastfed babies have successrully begun solid foods after their
first birthday. If you want to wait to introduce solid foods, discuss it with your pediatrician first.
Breastmilk will be baby's primary food until at least a year. Beginning solid foods too early
may cause problems, including obesity, respiratory problems like bronchial asthma, and food allergies for the baby and frustration
for both of you. It could also cause your milk production to decrease. Talk to your health care provider before you begin.
There is no rush to starting solids. Many studies show there is no scientific evidence to support the belief
that feeding solids early in the evening helps baby sleep through the night. Babies fed solids early do not sleep through
the night any sooner than babies not fed early.
Don't be concerned if baby pushes the food out during first attempts at solid feeding.
This is normal. Your baby is used to breastfeeding and her natural instinct is to suck by moving her tongue forward and back.
This is the same tongue and mouth action that causes some of the food to be pushed out. After several feedings, your baby
will adjust to this new way of eating. Relax and Have Fun during this milestone in baby's life.
Cues Baby is Ready:
Baby is at least 4 months old
Lifts and supports head
Doubled birth weight and weighs 13+ lbs.
Hungry after 8-10 breast feedings in a 24 hour period
Follows objects 6' away
Leans foward to reach spoon when hungry
Opens mouth when hungry
Turns head away from spoon when full
Opens mouth as spoon approches
Moves food backward with tongue
Puts hands in mouth while eating
Bats at spoon with fist
Time between feedings becomes shorter and shorter over a period of several days
Can bring an object in her hand directly to her mouth
Shows interest in others eating around her
Becomes fussy in the midle of the night, whereas before she slept through with no problem. Or sleep periods
become shorter instead of longer
Even though it is messy, let your baby put her fingers in her mouth while eating. This will help her learn
to swallow by using the same sucking method she uses with breastfreeding.
Did you know? A baby is born with enough iron in his body to last about 4-6 months. After that, iron-fortified
infant cereal can help meet your baby's need for iron, a critical nutrient for healthy growth and mental development.
Usually doctors recommend Rice Cereal as baby's first food. It's easy to digest and mises easily with breastmilk
or water. It's a good source of iron, calcium and vitamins and rarely causes allergic reactions.
Remember to allow 3-5 days for each new food. Next you may give your baby another single-grain cereal like
oatmeal or barley - once at a time. Store opened boxes of cereal in a cool, dry place for up to one month. After one month,
the cereal's nutrient content begins to decrease.
Mix a small amount of dry cereal (about 1 tsp) with 4-5 tsp milk or water.
Babies usually respond better to the first feedings of cereal if it is thin rather than thick.
Put a small amount of cereal on the tip of the spoon and place in baby's mouth.
Babies may eat less than half a teaspoon at first. If baby gags or rejects the food, stop and try again later.
Never force feed!
**Doctors recommend waiting until your baby is eight months old before trying cereals with wheat. Wheat is a
common allergen. Gluten - a protein found in some cereals such as wheat - is responsible for a serious intestinal disorder
called "celiac disorder." Foods made with wheat include bread, regular pasta, and some mixed cereals.
**Morning or early afternoon is the best time to give your baby her very first meal. Sometimes babies have allergic
reactions to foods. If you feed her in the evening, and she does have a reaction, it will probably be in the middle of the
night. Baby is also more happy and energetic at these times.
**Give your baby his very first meal when he's not too hungry. He should be hungry enough to want to eat, but
not ravenous. If he's too hungry he may become frustrated during this new unfamiliar eating method. Try introducing him to
his first meal after he has had a partial breast feeding. Give him half a feeding, introduce his first solid food, then finish
the feeding. This will also help to maintain his milk intake. Or you can try his first solid food halfway through the time
between 2 breast feedings, when he's just a little hungry.
**Keep your facial expressions pleasant, no matter what happens. The more relaxed, confident, and tolerant you
are at mealtime, the smoother the feeding will go. If she spits out the food, gently scrape it off her chin with the spoon
and re-feed it to her. Don't show disappointment if she spits out the food. Try not to laugh when she spits it out. It may
encourage her to continue to do this after it's no longer cute.
**When your baby begins eating solid foods, it increases the load on the kidneys and necessitates the addition
of a small amount of water to your baby's diet. A tablespoon should be plenty at first, then slowly increase as you increase
Gerber Feeding Plan