Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Introduction to Solids 101

Sometimes as a parent, it is difficult to know when your child is ready for you to introduce new foods into his/her diet. Even though many parents choose to start their children on solid foods before six months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively fed breast milk for the first six months of life. However, many parents find that starting their children on cereal around four months can help their child sleep better through the night and help their child stay full for longer. So how can you know as a parent if your child is ready for the transition to solid food? Here are some signs of readiness from Your infant needs to exhibit the following characteristics:

  • head control, the ability to keep head upright and steady
  • loss of the extrusion reflex which makes him push his food from his mouth with his tongue
  • ability to sit upright with support
  • ability to move food to back of mouth so that she can swallow (you may notice less drooling)
  • double his birth weight and at least four months old
  • bigger appetite, regular feedings are no longer sufficient
  • shows interest in what you are eating
Once your baby is ready, start out with rice cereal and just add a couple of teaspoons to some formula or breast milk. Start out with it as a semi-liquid and then make it thicker as your child begins to eat it better. Always start your child on cereal from a bowl with a spoon, instead of putting it in a bottle. Babies need to make the connection that solid food is to be eaten while sitting up and using a spoon. Start with once-a-day cereal feedings and work up to two daily feedings once your child is able eat well. It will take patience at first as your child learns to swallow and to keep the food in her mouth, but your child will eventually catch on to the new addition in her diet. After your child has no problems eating cereal, you can begin adding in strained or mashed fruits and vegetables. However, it is recommended that you wait three days after introducing each new food to make sure your child does not have any allergic reactions. Some good fruits and veggies to start with are sweet potatoes, applesauce, bananas, carrots, and squash.

For more information about introducing solids, check out

What have you learned as you have introduced solids to your children? What advice do you have for new parents as they take on this challenge?

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