Hello, my name is Paula Vineyard Most and I am a dietitian with the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program at Jackson County Health Department. In my blog, I will be sharing the answers to common questions I hear every day at my job.
A common question new (and experienced) parent asks is "What is the first 'solid' food I should give my baby?" Most of us are comfortable with the idea that our babies need breast milk (or artificial baby milk) for the first few months – but when they are ready to start solids, what should that first food be? Solid foods are anything except breast or artificial baby milk. There are thousands of foods available for adults and any of these foods could potentially be turned into "baby" food – let's look at what that first bite of food should be.
The two most important considerations when starting your baby on solid foods are iron and food allergens. Babies have a good iron supply from their mothers for the first 6 months, and since a baby's digestive system is immature, you want to avoid those foods most likely to cause an allergic reaction. The general practice is to start with single grain baby cereals. Rice cereal is least likely to cause an allergic reaction, and all baby cereals are fortified with iron. Once your baby is eating single grain cereals well, move on to vegetables and fruits – waiting a minimum of 3 days (longer is better) between each new food to watch for any food allergies. Next introduce foods higher in protein such as pureed meats (beef, turkey or chicken), or dairy foods (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese), do not offer cows milk until age one. Another great source of protein is cooked mature beans (pinto, great northern, lima, etc.) Don't forget that even though your baby may be eating solid foods, breast milk and/or artificial baby milk is still their primary source of nutrition until they are one year old. A great online resource for more information iswww.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442464699 . For comments or concerns on feeding your child, contact me at the Jackson County Health Department, 618-684-3143, ext 153.
We will explore "when should your infant start solids" in the next blog.