When your infant is able to sit independently and grab for things to put in his/her mouth, it’s time to begin introducing solid foods. Start with simple, basic foods such as rice cereal. You should add breast milk or warm formula to the cereal, mixing about a tablespoon of cereal with every four to five tablespoons of breast milk. Look for infant cereals that are fortified with iron, which can provide about 30% to 45% of your infant’s daily iron needs. About midway through the first year, his/her inborn stores of iron will have become depleted, so extra iron is a good idea.
Additional recommendations to keep in mind:
- Introduce your baby to other solid foods gradually. Good initial choices are other simple cereals, such as oatmeal, as well as vegetables and fruits. Most pediatricians recommend offering vegetables before offering fruits.
- Start these new foods one at a time, at intervals of every two to three days. This approach will allow your infant to become used to the taste and texture of each new food. It can also help you identify any food sensitivities or allergies that may develop as each new food is started. Some pediatricians advise introducing wheat and mixed cereals last because babies could have allergic reactions to them. Contact your doctor if symptoms (for example, diarrhea, vomiting, rash) develop that appear to be related to particular foods.
- In the beginning, feed your infant small serving sizes—even just one or two small spoonfuls to start.