Baby’s transition to solid foods can be a source of stress for parents – or the most natural thing in the world.
The key: Don’t force it. Instead, allow baby choices and a fun introduction to food, said Sara Fausett, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Intermountain Cedar City Hospital.
Jade Elliott spoke with Sara Fausett about introducing foods to your baby.
“Eating is a continuum, and food is an experience,” Fausett said. “Allowing babies to explore food in a way that makes them feel safe helps them create a healthy relationship with food, which makes feeding easier for them — and for mom and dad.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend introducing solid foods at age 6 months. That’s the time when breastmilk or formula alone no longer provides the number of calories and protein babies need, Fausett said.
But babies who express interest in foods mom or dad eat can be allowed to explore foods a little earlier.
“The expectation is not to perform, but to have a safe exposure to food anytime earlier than 6 months of age” Fausett said. “If you feed babies too early and they don’t know what to do with solid food, they will resist you as long as possible because it’s a safety issue for them.”
At six months, babies should be introduced to solid foods, even if they don’t seem interested, Fausett said. Parents could serve thinned rice cereal with several spoons to encourage exploration and play.
Parents should continue to provide breastmilk or formula when introducing foods, Fausett said. Other milks from legumes or animals and protein shakes should be avoided.
Here are some additional tips for introducing foods:
- 6 months: Introduce cereal if baby is showing signs of readiness (sitting up, looking at you, able to tongue thrust, and turn head away)
- 6-8 months: Start strained or pureed foods. Introduce one new food per week.
- Add thickness, lumps, or chunks as baby’s ability to eat thinner purees or liquids improves.
- Offer firm large foods as an experience, so long as they cannot choke baby (whole celery or carrots are good options).
- Progressively offer foods that you eat at home as part of your healthy diet.
Remember, babies have a clean-slate palate, and this is good time to introduce fruits and vegetables, Fausett said.
For more information: Intermountainhealthcare.org.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.