0-6 Months of Age
Your baby’s main source of nutrition for the first six months of his or her life should be breast milk or formula.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, supplement with iron — especially if you don’t always remember to take your daily vitamins. You need to continue Vitamin D — so you can either add iron Fer-in-sol drops or Novaferrum drops 0.5 mL once a day or substitute with Poly-Vi-Sol with iron 1 mL a day until your baby is taking one serving of baby cereal or meat per day. More information and resources about breastfeeding is available here.
You can start spoon feeding your baby solid foods — pureed foods or fortified baby cereal* — around 5 or 6 months of age. You can even begin as early as 4 months if your baby is ready! The key is ensuring your baby is able to sit up well before introducing solid food.
When introducing spoon-fed solids, it’s normal for babies to push most of the food out of their mouths. This is due to a tongue thrust, and it will go away with time and practice.
Parents often use cereal as a “first food” to teach babies how to get rid of the tongue thrust — and then move on to more expensive baby foods. Cereal is also a good way to add zinc and iron to babies’ diets, since breast milk is low in these minerals after the first four months.
Introduce one food at a time. Wait four days before adding a new food to see if there is a reaction such as hives or vomiting.
We recommend starting with savory foods like squash or sweet potatoes. Babies have an instinct to like sweet things, because they are rarely poisonous in nature; however, they have to be taught how to eat vegetables. Mixing enhances food acceptance, so add a little more of the “yucky stuff” each day to the food they prefer.
At around 6 months of age (or 4 months at the earliest) you can begin offering your child 2-3 oz. of fluoridated water. Start a sippy cup at 6 months.
6-12 Months of Age
The second six months of life are “weaning months,” when your baby will begin eating more food and less milk (max of 36 oz.).
By eight months, your baby will likely be so adept at spoon feeding, that his or her milk will be a drink after the meal rather than the main course.
We do NOT recommend “baby led weaning.” Babies aren’t coordinated enough initially to feed themselves — that’s why spoon feeding is important. Transition from puréed to mashed foods — and finally to finger foods. It’s important to introduce finger foods early — even if your baby just wants to play with it.
By 9 months of age, your baby should be able to eat foods such as a well-cooked broccoli floret and soft chunks of banana or tofu.
A good test: If you can eat a particular food with just your tongue on the roof of your mouth, your baby can safely eat that food. (If it goes down the wrong pipe, your baby should be able to cough it up in pieces, so it does not obstruct her or his airway.)
Foods to Avoid
Babies need to be socialized into eating what you eat when you eat. Here are a few foods to avoid during the weaning stage:
- We no longer give juice to babies unless they are constipated and refuse prunes or apricots on a spoon.
- NO HONEY UNTIL 12 MONTHS. This is due to botulism — a paralytic disease.
- Do not feed babies fish with mercury. This includes shark, swordfish, king mackerel and large tuna.
- Do not add extra salt or MSG to the table food you feed your baby.
Cutting Down Feeding Times
By 9-12 months, your baby should be adept at finger foods. He or she should be eating along with you three times daily, plus getting a snack and nursing less.
Eliminate the morning feed first. If your baby is on a bottle, wean the amount you’re feeding down to 16-24 oz. by 12 months.
By 9 months of age, your baby should be going to bed with clean teeth — that means knowing how to fall asleep without taking a bottle or nursing. At this age, you should not be feeding your baby more than two times in the night.
Month 12 and Beyond
At 12 months of age, you can transition to 16-24 oz. of whole pasteurized milk in a cup.
Wean the bottle by 14 months — before your baby develops an attachment to it. Wean from the breast by 2 years (sooner if your baby is not sleeping through the night or has to nurse to fall asleep).
Common Food Allergies
We recommend introducing highly allergenic foods as early as possible. Examples include: dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and wheat.
Introduce these at home, with Children’s Benadryl readily available. Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website for more information.
If your child is allergic, his or her first reaction likely will not be severe, but call our office as soon as possible if this happens.
Check out these resources for more information on how to make food and feeding schedules for your baby: