Wonder when to start baby cereal or introduce your breastfeeding baby to his first foods?
You’ll find a lot of advice about how to starting solids with your baby. It can be confusing, since different sources may give you different information.
Most breastfeeding babies will show signs of being ready to try new foods sometime between the ages of five to nine months.
How do you know When Baby is Ready?
Although in most cases, it is best to let your baby tell you when he or she is ready, doctors now recommend that you delay start solids in breastfeeding babies until they are six months old. It is most beneficial to your baby to be exclusively breastfeed until then.
How do you know he is ready? You may notice that baby begins to reach for foods on your plate. This is a good indication that they may be ready to start experimenting with solid food. (Learn more here about baby-led weaning and letting baby decide when.)
Should You Start with Cereal?
While many doctors might suggest that your little one start first on baby cereal, many 6-month-old children really don’t seem to like it and breastfed babies really don’t need it.
In fact, there is a growing trend to SKIP the cereal and start with other options and good evidence to back up that choice. Cereal can be hard for babies to digest, has very little nutrition and has more sugar than some better choices.
So if you don’t want to bother with baby cereal, don’t worry about it. There is nothing special about cereal. Your baby will do just fine without it and some would argue they will do better. (The best and easiest way for your baby to get any additional iron is by introducing meat, not baby cereal!)
Better First Foods
Once your baby is showing signs of readiness, many moms begin them with some mashed sweet potato or yam. This is a sweet vegetable that is very nutritious, and most babies really like them.
Other good choices for beginning solids are mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce, mashed potatoes and mashed peas. Sweet vegetables and fruits are good choices to begin with since the baby may find them similar to the sweetness of breast milk. (Anyone who suggests that you not start with fruit because of its sweetness, it not aware of how sweet natural breast milk is!)
If You Are Feeding a Baby Cereal – How Much?
Feed only a quarter of a teaspoonful of baby cereal or mashed food to begin with, increasing the amount very slowly as your baby shows more interest. Solids can be offered just once a day in the beginning, and then slowly increased as the baby wants.
You may want to nurse your baby before their serving of solid food. This ensures that they are not too hungry to settle down and experiment with a new food. Don’t be alarmed if he or she plays with his or her food more than eat it. This is normal, and an important part of learning about new foods for a baby.
Moving Beyond Very First Foods
As they get used to a few solids and can eat foods that are a little chunkier, you can add:
• small cubes of avocado
• banana and grapes that have been halved and then quartered into small pieces.
• Small pieces of shredded, well-cooked chicken and other meats. (Meat also provides iron, which many older babies need to add to their diet.)
• Canned fruits like peaches and pears can be cut up into small pieces that your baby can feed to himself.
• Bits of baked potato, cooked carrots, green beans and squash may also be offered.
As baby grows, they also will be able to eat pieces of toasted bread, crackers and cereals. In fact, a hard bagel is perfect when baby is teething, as it does not contain the sugar that commercial teething biscuits do.
Other First Food Tips
• Be sure to use only single ingredients so if your baby does have a reaction to a food, you’ll know what it is.
• It is okay to not offer solids every single day at the beginning.
• Your baby will indicate when his or her appetite increases enough to want more.
• Feed your baby the same foods that you eat. Not only does this make preparing your baby’s food more convenient for you, but they are already used to tasting a difference in the breast milk from what you eat, so similar tastes will be familiar to them.
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