The idea of switching infants to solid food excites parents, but it is a decision not to be taken lightly. Pediatricians must always be consulted, even if your baby is at the 4-6 month range when most babies lose their tongue-thrust reflex (they push their tongues against whatever is put into their mouths). This is usually the turning point in switching a baby’s diet, but feeding solids too soon may in fact harm your baby. It can cause:
- Development of food allergies or intolerances
- Consumption of inadequate amounts of breast milk or formula, leaving the baby at risk of growth and developmental difficulties
Meanwhile, delaying solid foods can set the baby’s development back, too; he or she may not learn to eat solids properly, develop an iron deficiency, and again at risk of growth and developmental difficulties. It is therefore crucial that you talk to your pediatrician about the timing of the switch.
Making the Switch
When you can both agree that the time is right, start off your baby with these solid foods.
- Baby-specific cereal
- Bananas, diced small to prevent choking
- Sweet potatoes, steamed or baked and diced
- Avocados, cubed
- Organic chicken or meat, pureed until your baby reaches 12 months or more, at which point she or he can eat small chunks or strips, instead
Save these foods for later in development.
- Peaches and pears, diced and very ripe
- Tofu, diced
Still later, try these foods.
- Whole grain bread, soft and cubed and without the crust (not just yet)
- Pasta, smaller cooked varieties like macaroni
- Hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Graham crackers, broken into small pieces
Tips For the Switch
Remember to introduce solid foods slowly and only when the baby is comfortable and well rested, like after a well-timed nap. Start the process slowly with about a teaspoon of food at a time until he or she grows more comfortable eating from a spoon, about two to four tablespoons of each food group twice a day. Don’t introduce too much at once as this might overwhelm the baby, and instead introduce a new food for seven days before introducing another. This also leaves ample time to detect any allergic reactions. Lastly, if the baby resists eating solids or a particular food like tofu, never force him or her to eat. All you can do is try again at another time.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online schools. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.