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Solid Foods

When Should an Infant Start Solid Foods?

Doctors usually recommend that infants should not be placed on solid foods prior to three months of age. The introduction of solid foods prior to three months may generate food allergies in children. Early induction of solid foods may reduce the caloric intake of infants--which may make a baby prone to illness and low weight.

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What are the Signs That an Infant is Ready for Solid Foods?

Infants who are gumming or chewing a bottle’s nipple or their mother’s breast may be ready for solid foods. Infants who are drooling may also be ready to start solid foods. The excessive saliva a baby produces is an indication that his or her digestive tract is ready for solid foods. Saliva makes solid foods easier to swallow. Another indicator that infants are ready for solid food is when their tongues do not automatically respond to solid foods by pushing the food back out of the mouth.

How to Introduce Solid Foods to An Infant

Infants may reject solid foods at first. The feeling of the spoon against an infant’s lips may be foreign to the child, and they may refuse to eat. If this happens, you should put off introducing solids for a week, or two. You can introduce the spoon at a later time when the infant may be more welcoming of the spoon and solid foods.

Infants should first be offered iron-fortified rice cereals. Rice is the least likely food to cause an allergic reaction in infants. The cereal can be mixed with formula or breast milk. The consistency should be moist and smooth, not thick or runny. Only a teaspoon, or two, of cereal will be consumed when the baby first starts eating solids. Most infants will automatically push the food out of their mouth. With time, babies will come to learn how to handle the texture of their cereal and keep most of it in their mouths.

New foods should be introduced at a rate of one every five days. This will enable any allergic reactions to be noted. Foods which can follow rice cereal include baby oatmeal, peaches, squash, bananas, peas, sweet potatoes, apples and pureed meats.

Additional information about starting your child on solid foods can be obtained through the WIC Program (Women, Infants, and Children).

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