- You know, parents have been feeding me
lots of questions as to when is the best time
for their infant to start eating solid foods.
Well, let me see if I can provide some information
on this topic that's easy to digest.
First, you need to realize that it's not
until late in the first year of life
that the digestive system is matured
to maximally absorb nutrients and calories,
so solids, which can fill a baby up
but are low in calories and nutrients,
don't help your baby grow until
they're about a year old.
So, what are solids for in infancy?
Well, they're really only there in infancy
to help your baby develop a fondness
for tastes and textures.
Their main ongoing source of nutritional
growth in that first year of life
is through the breast milk you're giving
your baby, or if need be, the formula
So that being said, when is the best time
to initiate solids for taste and texture?
Well, certainly not before at least 4 months
of age, but more importantly, when your baby
demonstrates good head and neck control
and is close to, if not sitting up,
which signifies the loss of primitive
sucking reflexes that make it difficult
for your baby to swallow anything
but a liquid without choking.
It's for that reason primarily,
and to reduce the risk of food allergies
if solids are started too early or too late,
that the American Academy of Pediatrics
recommends starting solids sometime
between 4 to 6 months of age.
Closer to 6 months if exclusively breastfeeding,
which is what I would recommend.
As to what foods to start with,
most nutritionists recommend starting
with a single-grain cereal, like iron-fortified
rice cereal, which can be easily digested
at 4 to 6 months of age.
And then moving up to pureed vegetables
and subsequently, fruits, saving the sweeter
tastes for last so your baby adjusts
to the non-sweet tastes of cereals
and vegetables first.
Don't introduce more than one new food
every few days to make sure that your baby
doesn't develop a food allergy to a particular
new food or an ingredient you're giving
him or her, so you'll know what the culprit
is if a new food is introduced.
If your baby doesn't like a food,
wait a week or two and try again,
since often the second or even third time
is the charm.
Hopefully, tips like this will go down easily
when it comes to knowing more about
when and how to introduce solids
to your baby.
This is pediatrician Dr. Lewis First
from the University of Vermont
Children's Hospital reminding you
to always be first with your kids.