You’ve heard the saying breast is best when it comes to feeding your baby. And for the first year of her life, your breastmilk is all that your baby needs for optimal health and development.
But what parent isn’t anxious and ready to start feeding baby’s appetites with a spoonful here and a little taste there, particularly as your baby approaches 4-6 months in age?
Exploring what your baby likes—and doesn’t like to eat—is another way to discover her emerging personality.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic say if you’re not sure whether your baby is ready, ask yourself these questions:
- Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
- Can your baby sit with support?
- Is your baby interested in what you’re eating?
If you answer yes to these questions and you have the OK from your baby’s pediatrician, you can begin supplementing your baby’s liquid diet. Just remember that at this early stage, foods are mainly for socializing and motor skill development.
Follow your baby’s cues when it comes to starting foods. “Just because your baby is old enough to start solid foods doesn’t mean it’s the right time for her,” says Dr. William Sears, author of The Portable Pediatrician. “If your baby keeps turning her head away or pushing the spoon away, then she is clearly not ready.”
According to Dr. Sears, babies don’t need solid foods for nutritional purposes until they’re at least 1 year old, so there’s no pressure to make your child eat earlier, particularly if he’s nursing well or feeding on formula, says the well-known pediatrician.
Foods to avoid for allergy or bacteria-related reasons, until age 1, include honey, egg whites, wheat, nut products and berries. Skip the peanuts and shellfish until at least age 2, says Dr. Sears, because of allergy issues.
Start every meal with breastfeeding first, or formula if you’re feeding that, and then provide baby with the opportunity to try a new food. Introduce one food at a time, a week at a time, and watch for signs of constipation, gas, fussiness or bloating, which may indicate baby isn’t ready for that particular food. For a list of foods to avoid, click here