Transitioning baby to first foods
Transitioning baby to solid foods is a big step that's both exciting and scary for parents. From cereal to bananas to messy peas and pureed chicken, the menu choices are endless -- but there is a right way to introduce solid foods to a baby. Here are some precautions you should take to protect your baby from choking and food allergies.
You should consult with your pediatrician when your baby is ready to eat solid foods -- and when you are given the green light, expect to get messy!
Getting started: Baby's first foods
Usually the first food you will introduce will be a rice or oatmeal cereal, since you can control the consistency. You will initially attempt to feed your baby with a spoon -- and before you know it, they will be sticking their tiny fingers (and at times, an entire fist) into the bowl.
After your baby starts getting the hang of cereal, you can then start introducing foods every two to three days so she can get used to the taste and texture of the foods, and so you can determine whether or not your baby has a positive reaction. You also might want to introduce vegetables before fruit because if your baby gets hooked on bananas first, trust me when I tell you they so won't want to eat peas!
Moving on to meals
By the time your baby is between 5 to 6 months old, you can start giving your baby three meals that include breast milk or formula, cereal, vegetables and meats. When it comes to meat, I suggest buying a mini food processor that can puree organic chicken breast. Add a dose of vegetable broth and you've got a tasty dish that will delight your little eater. Plenty of options also are available in your local grocery store -- from jarred baby food to frozen to freeze-dried. In the end, it's up to you and your baby on what agrees with them most.
At 8 or 9 months old, your baby will start getting the hang of feeding herself (no more fistfuls of cereal all over her face and clothes). At this time, you can start giving her dry cereal, as well as very small pieces of regular food. Just make sure you cut up the food in tiny bites and avoid giving her foods that could potentially cause choking such as popcorn, grapes, hot dogs, raisins and nuts.
The biggest concerns with feeding your baby solid foods are the dangers associated with food allergies and choking. If you suspect your baby could be allergic to any of the foods they have ingested, consult your pediatrician immediately. If you haven't yet taken an infant CPR class, you should definitely do so before you introduce solid foods into your baby's diet. For more information, visit www.healthychildren.org.