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A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Feeding baby solids

FAQs About Feeding Babies Solid Foods

When you start feeding a baby solids most parents have lots of questions! Have faith – babies are usually pretty easy to feed! They’re not picky and seem to have fun trying new foods.

Here’s some questions I hear often and the answers I give:

In what order should I introduce foods? There isn’t a recommended order to introduce foods. Usually we start with an iron fortified single grain baby cereal mixed with either breast milk or formula. That is an easy start because it will taste familiar to your baby. The iron in the cereal is especially important for solely breastfed babies. However – the current recommendations say it’s okay to start with other foods!

We also used to recommend starting veggies before fruits. But, guess what? Now we understand that babies have a built-in preference for sweet foods – giving them veggies first won’t stop that. So, there’s one less thing to worry about: they won’t dislike veggies any more if you give them fruit first.

Does my baby need to drink water? You can start giving water when your baby is eating solid foods regularly. Offer a sippy or cup of water when you feed them solids. Before that, breast milk or formula provides for their hydration needs.

Can my baby start solids before 4 to 6 months? Deciding when to start babies on solid feedings is in large part based on their developmental readiness. They need to:

  • Be 4 to 6 months old.
  • Able to hold head steady when sitting in an infant seat or high chair.
  • Be interested in what you’re eating.
  • Take food in their mouth off of a spoon and swallow it. They shouldn’t just thrust their tongue and the food back out. If they’re not yet meeting these milestones, wait a week or two and reassess. They’ll get there soon!

Will starting solids help my baby sleep through the night? No, it won’t! Babies’ sleep is influenced by many factors. Adding food is not an effective way to keep them sleeping longer. Also know that many babies’ sleep gets more disrupted at around 4 to 6 months regardless of when solids are introduced.

Is it okay to add cereal to bottles of formula or breast milk? No, please don’t do this! This:

  • Is a choking hazard – babies can gag on the thickened milk, cough, and inhale the cereal into their lungs.
  • Can cause them to take in too many calories and become overfed.

Do you recommend “baby-led weaning”? There’s not enough research yet for us to recommend this approach one way or the other. However, the name does act as a reminder that babies themselves need to be in charge of what and how much they eat! Parents shouldn’t try to persuade a baby to eat what they don’t want to, and especially when they’re full! Let your baby control the fun and games in the highchair – with you watching, of course.

Also, it’s important not to offer anything that may cause choking, such as chunks of food, or foods that could break off into pieces in a baby’s mouth.

Can I give a baby cow’s milk? Tired of breastfeeding or making bottles and wondering if cow’s milk would be okay? Nope, not until your babe is 12 months old. While a sip would be okay, regular feedings would not be – cow’s milk just does not have enough nutrition in it for a younger baby. You can and should offer your baby cow milk products like cheese and yogurt!

More resources for parents

My Doctor Online:
Healthy Eating for Babies

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