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Starting Solid Baby Foods

Parenting Tips

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Updated December 13, 2004

Make sure your baby is ready for solid food before you give it to her. Don't rush her into eating solid food. Some babies are ready for it at four months. Some babies aren't ready until they are older. Your baby's weight or age alone does not determine her readiness for solid food.

Here are some signs to look for that will tell you if your baby is ready to try solid food:

  • She holds her head steady and sits with support.
  • She reaches for and shows interest in food.
  • She opens her mouth when she sees food.
  • She no longer thrusts her tongue out during feeding, so she's able to keep food in her mouth and swallow it.
  • She turns her head away when she's full.
Most babies are ready for baby cereal when they're between four and six months of age. Ask your doctor about the best time to start your baby on solid food. Rice, oatmeal or barley cereals are OK if they are finely ground. Use them one at a time.

Mix some infant cereal with breast milk in a bowl. You can also use formula instead of breast milk. Don't use cow's milk or any other kind of milk or other liquid. Hold your baby in a sitting position or put her in a child seat on the floor (Be sure she is strapped in.) so she doesn't choke. Always use a spoon to feed solid foods to your baby.

See if your baby will take half of a very small spoonful. If she turns her head away or cries, she's not ready. Try again in a week or two.

When she is ready, she will take small, messy bites. She may roll the food around in her mouth or feel it repeatedly with her tongue. Making a mess is part of learning, so just have fun with her. At this age, your breast milk or infant formula provides all the nutrition your baby needs.

Give your baby only one new food at a time. You can then see if any one of the foods causes allergic reactions. Right now, only infant cereals are a good choice. If one of these types of cereals is a problem for her, she will vomit or get a rash. She may also have diarrhea. If this happens, call your doctor or go to your clinic.

These tips were reproduced from the U.S. Department of Education.

View more Infant Parenting Tips.

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