Breast milk is the best first food for your baby, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center. Breastfeeding is widely accepted as the healthiest way to feed your baby. But when it comes to feeding your baby solid food for the first time, there are a wide range of choices, from rice cereal to mashed bananas.
Mild foods are usually the best choice for a first food for your baby, according to New Mexico State University. Rice cereal, thinned with a bit of breast milk to the consistency of a runny liquid, is a good starting food. Oatmeal and barley are also good first foods. Then move to pureed sweet potatoes, bananas, applesauce and avocados, which are rich in nutrients and which Dr. Sears calls “the perfect baby food.” Gradually add other fruits and vegetables, including pears, carrots and green vegetables.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life. After that, it is OK to begin to introduce solid foods. Rice, oatmeal and barley cereal is recommended for 6-month-olds, and pureed vegetables and fruits can be given between 6 and 8 months of age. Wait to introduce strained and mashed meat, cooked egg yolks, yogurt and cheeses until your baby is between 8 and 12 months old. Berries should not be introduced until over the age of 1, as many children have berry allergies.
Signs of Readiness
Never try to feed your baby solid foods until she is ready for them. Watch to see if she seems interested in what you are eating. Make sure she can sit up in a high chair without slumping over sideways, suggests the Dr. Sears website. If she tries to thrust the food back out with her tongue, she is probably too young to easily swallow solid foods, and you should wait another month or two until the tongue thrust habit subsides.
Introduce solid foods by placing a bit of rice cereal on the tip of your finger. This will be less foreign to your baby than a cold spoon. Let him suck it off of your finger. Then, try placing a larger bit of food on his tongue to see if he can swallow it. Once he can swallow well and seems to look forward to the food, try using a spoon. Give your baby a spoon to play with as well, so he becomes familiar with it, and let him try to feed himself if he is interested.
Wait two or three days between the introduction of each new food to make sure your baby does not have any allergic reactions to the food, such as a rash or hives. Watch for signs that your baby has had enough to eat, such as if she turns her head away from the spoon, spits the food back out or begins to fuss. Force-feeding her will only create a negative association with food. It’s best to introduce new foods in the morning so that if the baby does get an upset stomach or has an adverse reaction to the food, it will wear off by bedtime and not keep her up at night.