This is one of the most fun and exciting milestones in the first year of life, when you start to feed solids to your baby. Its gonna be messy so be prepared , relax and have fun with it. Don't get too crazed right away about how much baby eats ( most will end up on face, bib and floor) Just as a guide, baby need only a few tablespoons to start out as a meal. Most nutrients are still supported by either breast milk or formula.
When to start? Baby is often ready between 4-6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends if exclusively breastfeeding can wait until 6 months then add in supplemental food. Also baby needs to be able to sit with little support, keep head up, look interested in food, reaching out, and ability to swallow purees without tongue thrust reflex- spitting it all out.
Rice Cereal- The biggest Dr. Jen NO- NO Avoid putting rice cereal in bottle! It's unnecessary sugars, often adds on too much baby weight/ calories than necessary, interferes with long term health and no evidence it promotes sleep. Please wait to feed baby purees with a spoon unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise. And another word about that rice cereal. - I tend to tell parents to avoid it, as again its just starch/ sugar and has unfortunately a lot of Arsenic in it even if you buy organic or brown whole grain rice. If you give cereal try barley, or oatmeal . But remember cereal does not need to be your baby's first food. Read on....
What foods to offer at the start ? I recommend giving purees before going to finger foods. Introduce fruits, veggie, as well as beans, meats and grains. In addition (unless your pediatrician says otherwise, or your baby has very bad eczema or food allergies) you then want to add in the most highly allergic foods around 6 months (peanuts. tree nuts, fish, seafood ,eggs, wheat, soy ,milk) in small amounts but frequently throughout a week. We now have research to back up early introduction of these foods can help reduce the risk of a food allergy in your baby. So don't be scared to start these foods- if you have more questions please speak with your baby's doctor. And remember to avoid any foods that can be choking hazards , so when moving on from purees makes very small soft pieces of foods and avoid honey until age 1 due to risk of botulism.
The whole idea of food introduction is to give a wide array to your baby to get them used to different flavors and then soon textures as well. The bland days are gone for baby. You can add spices and seasonings just avoid adding excess salt and sugar..It's especially important to have baby start taking foods high in iron like the fortified cereals but also meats, beans, eggs, dark green veggies too. Watch my video to hear what I have to say about the best order to give new foods to baby .I think you may be surprised by my answers!! - Dr. Jen