In addition to breast milk or baby formula, here are the solid foods you can introduce to your baby’s diet at each stage of development - or if your baby is ready. But remember, you can exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months.
There is no evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods, including peanuts, eggs, and fish, beyond 4 to 6 months prevents atopic disease. There is now evidence that early introduction of peanuts may prevent peanut allergy.
|How to Prepare
(Fortified cereals give your baby iron, an important nutrient they need now. A baby is born with a natural reserve of iron that begins to deplete around 6 months of age.)
|Mix with baby formula or breast milk, or water on occasion.
Pureed or strained fruits (bananas, pears, apples, apricots, prunes)
Yogurt (whole milk or soy-basedinfant botulism)
Wash all fresh fruits, then bake, boil, or steam until soft. You can puree in either a blender or a food processor, or use a small hand food mill; add a little liquid like breast milk, baby formula, or water at first. Make it watery at first, then use less liquid as your baby gets used to solid foods.
Any of these foods can be mixed with rice cereal if added texture is needed
Pureed or strained vegetables (avocados, carrots, peas, potatoes, squash)
These are referred to as stage 1 or 2 foods in the baby section of the grocery store.
|Wash all fresh vegetables; then bake, boil, or steam until soft. You can puree in either a blender or a food processor, or use a small hand food mill; add a little liquid like breast milk, baby formula, or water at first. You can use less water for a thicker puree as your baby gets used to the new foods.
Protein: pea-sized pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, or other meats, or boneless fish; beans such as lentils, black, red, or pinto beans.
(Doctors used to recommend waiting a bit to introduce meats, but now they note these are a good source of iron, particularly for breastfed babies, who may not be getting enough.
|Cut meat or fish into very small pieces; cook and mash or cut up beans.
Mashed fruits and vegetables
Stage 3 foods in the baby section
|No need to puree; just cook foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes until soft, or mash up soft foods like bananas and avocados.
|Finger foods like small o-shaped cereals, teething crackers, or small pieces of soft fruit, cooked pasta, or vegetables
|Cut up to make sure the pieces are small enough for your baby to swallow without choking.
|Dairy: small amounts of cottage cheese, or any pasteurized cheese
|Cut cheese into small pieces.
(Doctors used to recommend waiting to introduce eggs and other allergens until baby reached at least 4 months, but new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say there is no evidence that waiting prevents food allergies.)
|Scramble, or hard-boil and cut into small pieces.
|Baby can try eating most of the foods you eat now, if they are cut up or mashed properly so that they can safely chew and swallow. Unless you have a strong family history of allergies, the American Academy of Pediatrics now says there is no need to avoid peanut products, eggs, wheat, or fish until after one year, although many pediatricians are still cautious about eggs, peanuts and shellfish due to the strong allergic reactions sometimes associated with them. Avoid whole cow’s milk and honey until at least one year. Honey can cause a dangerous illness called infant botulism.
|As your baby gets more teeth and learns to chew more effectively, they will begin to be able to eat larger pieces of food. Continue to monitor their chewing carefully, and when in doubt, cut pieces smaller than you think necessary. Be especially careful with round, firm foods like grapes and hot dogs, which pose a particular choking hazard to babies. Chop these into very small pieces.
Waiting a few days after introducing a new food to your baby is a good way to monitor for allergic reactions. Emerging research has shown that introducing multiple foods together is safe, and may help the immune system have a lower risk of developing food allergies, but more studies are needed. Check with your doctor for what’s best for your baby.