Expanding Your Baby's Palate
After four to six months of formula or breast milk, your baby will probably start to show interest in some different types of foods. Your pediatrician also will help you monitor your baby's growth and development and let you know when he is ready to branch out to other tastes and textures. Traditionally, parents begin feeding either infant grain cereal or pureed or mashed fruits and vegetables to introduce babies to the spoon and the mechanics of eating solid foods. Once your baby eats well from the spoon, at around 6 to 8 months old, he is ready to try some soft finger foods, such as scrambled eggs, bits of pasta or small pieces of banana.
Ready to Eat
By paying attention to both your baby and your pediatrician, you will probably be able to tell when your little one is ready to take the plunge into solid foods. Your baby should be able to sit up with minimal support and have good head control in sitting. He may be interested in your food and even reach up to take a swipe at your fork if he's sitting in your lap as you eat. Your baby also may start trying to move cereal or purees around in his mouth rather than using his tongue to push them back out again. When he is ready for solid foods, he will be able to get his hands to his mouth in a controlled way. All these actions are indications that your baby is developmentally ready for soft solid foods.
Tasty First Foods
Starting solids is an exciting day for both you and your baby. You get to introduce her to pint-sized versions of some of the flavors that children and adults enjoy. When you start feeding your baby solid foods, introduce only one new food at a time, and begin with only a teaspoon or so of that food. Feed or offer her one new food for a few days before introducing another new food to go along with the familiar one. This lets you monitor your baby for allergies or other reactions. No evidence exists at this time that delaying the baby-friendly introduction of common allergens makes children less likely to develop food allergies. Scrambled eggs, in particular, are a good first finger food for babies because they are soft and contain iron, an essential mineral that babies need while they are weaning from breast milk or formula. Other foods you can introduce at this stage include cooked plain pasta, bits of banana and pieces of cracker.
Allergies and Other Cautions
If your baby turns away or cries when you feed him, do not try to force him to eat. Instead, go back to breast milk or formula for a week or two before trying again. If your baby develops diarrhea or a rash or vomits after eating a new food, it could be a sign of a sensitivity to that food. Check with your pediatrician before offering that food again. Don't leave your baby unattended while he eats, and be sure that any foods you give your baby are free of chunks. Do not offer any finger foods that require chewing, such as raw fruits, other than bananas, nuts or raw vegetables. If you have concerns about the way your baby eats or the way he is adapting to solid foods, talk them over with your pediatrician.