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Categories > Parenting > Newborn/infant care

Stepping up to solid foods
Getting started

Buying the best baby food
Buying the best baby food

  • Read labels. Choose foods without added salt or sugar. Note, too, the first ingredient. Chicken and vegetables will contain more meat than vegetables and chicken.
  • When buying single foods, choose the brand with the most calories. This will ensure that you’re getting the most food per unit weight.
  • Only buy jars with safety buttons on tops that are pushed in.

Take this quick quiz.

Do you know at what age to start weaning your baby to solids? Is it:

  1. 4 months?
  2. 5 months?
  3. 6 months?

Actually, all three answers are correct. The ideal starting time is anywhere from 4 to 6 months, though when you begin is up to you, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Introducing solids is a gradual process—not something that will happen overnight. You will, however, start to notice subtle cues in your child, like the way he or she mimics the way you eat or tends to grab for your plate.

Your baby is ready when he or she:

  • has doubled in birth weight
  • nurses more than eight times a day or drinks more than 32 ounces of formula
  • can sit without support
  • eyes your food and may even try to grab it
  • appears hungry after meals and can’t wait as long for the next feeding
  • has started waking at night to feed
  • starts chewing on his or her hands and showing other signs of hunger

Getting started

To begin feeding your baby solid foods, gradually decrease the number of times your child gets breast milk. Offer solids when your milk supply is at its lowest, usually at the end of the day. There’s no hard and fast rule regarding the best food to start with, but most doctors recommend rice cereal since it’s intestine-friendly. Mix it with milk until its texture resembles a thin gravy.

  • Be prepared: It’s going to be messy (put a bib on baby and don’t wear your Sunday best), and it may not be successful. Pick a time when you aren’t rushed or tired … your child should not be sick or grumpy when you start, nor should you.
  • Use either a small spoon or the tip of your finger. At first, give only a small amount, about one teaspoon twice a day. Gradually increase to three or four teaspoons. Learn your baby’s signals for fullness, such as pushing the spoon away or turning his or her head.

After a few days, you can move on to something else. Mashed carrots and squash are good first foods. Keep a diary to note any allergic reactions. Avoid mixed cereals or mixed meats until your baby has tried each individual food.