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Feeding Your Baby in the First Year

Health Articles |
Categories: Pediatrics
Baby Food for the First Year

Congratulations on your new arrival! You are no longer eating for two, but instead, feeding for two.

You may have some questions when it comes to feeding your baby, including what types of foods to introduce, and when to do it.

When to Introduce Solids

Breast milk or formula provides all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 4 to 6 months. After that, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following guidelines for when to introduce solid foods to your baby.

  • Can your baby hold their head up?
  • Does your baby open his or her mouth when food comes their way?
  • Can he or she move food from a spoon into his throat?
  • Is your baby big enough? Generally, when infants double their birth weight, and weigh around 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.

It's recommended you consult with your pediatrician about when to introduce solid foods to your baby, because each child's readiness depends on his or her own rate of development.

Getting Started

If you and your pediatrician have determined your child is ready to start eating solids, here are some recommendations for foods to introduce.

Cereal

Traditionally, single-grain cereals (made specifically for babies and iron-fortified) are often the first solid food introduced. Don't be surprised if most of the feeding ends up all over your baby's face and hands! It takes some practice for your baby to learn to swallow solid foods.

Fruits and vegetables

The next foods often introduced are fruits and vegetables. Some pediatricians recommend starting with vegetables before fruits (babies have a preference for sweets), but it doesn't matter in which order they are introduced. If you are preparing your own baby food, please discuss with your pediatrician as some vegetables contain high levels of nitrates that can cause an unusual type of anemia in young babies. Commercially prepared vegetables are safer because the manufacturers test for nitrates.

Finger foods

Once your baby can sit up and bring his or her hands or other objects to their mouth, you can introduce finger foods. To avoid choking, be sure anything you give your baby is soft, easy to swallow and cut into small pieces. Do not give any food that requires chewing at this age.

Good Habits Start Early

"In addition to considering the food choices you will offer your inquisitive eater, try to set your baby up for healthy eating habits too," says Doylestown Health nutritionist Kristin Morrow, RD, LDN, CDE. "Keep your baby seated for the duration of the meal, as roaming around while eating can lead to choking or develop into distracted eating. Keep the experience a pleasant one and avoid forcing food, as repeated exposure to healthy foods will help your baby develop a healthy interest and a good relationship with food. Allow your baby to determine when to cut the meal off. Encouraging your baby to eat more than needed, even when he or she is turning away or batting the food away, can lead to discomfort, poor recognition of hunger and satiety, and poor sleep…and no one wants to interfere with a baby’s sleep!"

Morrow has a few recommendations of foods to try introducing to your baby after he or she has mastered eating various solid (but soft) foods.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, and the yolk contains a vitamin-like substance called choline, which helps with the creation of memory stem cells. The more cells we have, the better our memories. The yolk also contains the majority of fat needed for children's growth and development.

Bananas

Bananas have high enzyme content, which means they are easily digested and easy on the baby's digestive system. Bananas are a great source of potassium. The brown-spotted bananas taste the sweetest and are the easiest to digest.

Avocado

Avocados are rich sources of healthy, monounsaturated fats and contain the enzyme lipase, which helps to predigest the fat in avocado as it ripens. This makes avocados easy to digest for your baby's developing digestive system.

Balanced Diet

It's recommended you introduce one food at a time, and wait 2 to 3 days before introducing another food. Within a few months, your baby's daily diet should include a variety of foods (along with breast milk or formula), including:

  • Meats
  • Cereal
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Fish

Find a Pediatrician Near You

About Pediatric Services

Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children's services to Bucks and Montgomery County communities.  The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services.

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