Feeding your infant their first bite of food is exciting. The first two years of feeding sets up lifetime dietary behaviors.
Here are some tips and recommendations to help your child develop healthy eating habits right from the start.
- Introduce solids foods around 4-6 months of age. This should be balanced with your baby’s developmental stage. Your infant should be able to sit with support and have good neck and head control.
- Start with single ingredient solids first. Wait 2-3 days between each new food to ensure there is no allergic reaction. If your baby develops a rash, vomiting or diarrhea, seek guidance from your pediatrician. When it comes to order of which foods to start first, it is important to note that exclusively breastfed babies need to have iron fortified foods twice a day. This can be accomplished with iron fortified cereals or pureed meats. To help establish a well balanced diet, all infants should be offered fruits and veggies at least once a day.
- Offer solids on a spoon. This will help develop good oral motor skills. You can start with a teaspoon at the end of breastfeeding or bottle feeding and slowly increase from there. Make sure to avoid any foods with added salt or sugar in them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has great guidelines for making your own baby food safely.
- Infants have a built in way to tell when they are full. They usually lean back or turn away when they are full. Infants should be allowed to stop feeding when they show these signs to help establish healthy eating habits and avoid overeating. Remember your infant may not like a particular food the first time; it may take up to 15 times before your baby will accept it.
- There are some foods that should be completely avoided. Be sure not to give any foods that are round and hard as these are a choking hazard. Examples include hotdogs, nuts, grapes and round candies. Honey shouldn’t be introduced until 12 months of age.
- Infants should continue to drink a maximum of 28-32 ounces of breast milk and/or formula a day. Once a baby turns six months old, sips of water can be offered safely. We advise limiting juice until infants are 1-year-old unless otherwise recommended by your pediatrician. When juice is introduced, use 100% juice and dilute it. Juice is a risk factor for childhood obesity and dental cavities.