5 Tips For Solid Food Introduction From a Pediatric Allergist
by Dr. Greg Bennett
As parents, we have a lot on our plate, but feeding your baby solid foods should not give you a bellyache. In fact, this is an important and exciting time for both you and your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting solids between four and six months of age. Use these tips to start solid foods off right – and set your baby on the road to healthy eating for life!
Is your baby ready?
Most babies are ready for solid food introduction between four and six months of age. Signs of readiness include:
- Solo Sitting - your baby can sit up without support
- Head Control - your baby can hold their head up for a long time while sitting
- Interest - your baby is interested in mealtime; follows foods with their eyes; shows eagerness and opens their mouth around food
- Reflexes - your baby doesn’t automatically push food out of their mouth (also known as the tongue thrust reflex)
Keep feeding breastmilk or formula
For the first year of life, your baby will still get most of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula even after they start eating solid foods.
Diet diversity – feed early + often!
Infants should be fed a broad variety of food (a bunch of different colors, flavors, and textures), including potentially allergenic foods. THERE IS NO NEED TO AVOID ALLERGENIC FOODS ONCE SOLID FOODS HAVE BEEN STARTED (including peanut, egg, fish, and sesame). Research shows that feeding potential allergens early and often can help reduce the risk of your baby developing a food allergy.
Foods to avoid
- Foods to avoid for the first 12 months of life: cow’s milk, juice, honey
- Foods to avoid until four years of age (choking hazards): hard, round, or sticky foods such as whole nuts, whole grapes, raw carrots, candy, lollipops, popcorn
Talk to your doctor
If your child has severe eczema (atopic dermatitis) or you suspect a food allergy, talk with your pediatrician about the introduction and timing of select foods, and whether you should consult with an allergy doctor.
It takes lots of time and practice for children to learn to eat solid foods. Your patience and warmth will help set your child up for healthy growth and development.