Babies: Introducing solid foods

I just started my five month old on solid foods -- first rice cereal, now sweet potatoes -- one food a week. What kind of schedule should I follow when adding solids to my baby's diet?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Up until six months, a baby depends entirely on breastmilk or formula to meet his or her nutritional needs. Any solids introduced prior to that are mostly for the 'practice.'

The transition to solids is a very gradual and sporadic affair. There will be days that your baby may refuse solids and rely totally on formula, and other days where he goes great gusto with the solids and cuts back on the formula.

It is usually recommended that you start your baby on two meals a day of an iron-fortified cereal before adding other foods. Continue to offer fruits and/or vegetables at both meals as a source of vitamins A and C. Perhaps by seven months you can add a lunch of fruits and vegetables along with breastmilk or formula. Protein foods are the last foods that need to be added since he will be getting plenty from the formula. You can add meats or other protein foods somewhere between eight and ten months.

Keep an eye on when your baby may like a little more texture and consistency in his diet. When that happens, offer chunkier, thicker foods and perhaps some finger foods.

By eight to ten months your baby may be eating two to three meals a day at the table, as well as continuing to nurse or drink formula. Snacks will be important for a long time and are a good chance to practice with finger foods like peeled soft fruit bits or mild soft cheese, and breads and crackers.

By one year the transition many babies are very comfortable with table foods. However, each baby operates on its own schedule, some going full steam ahead, while others hang on to breast or bottle for a bit longer. You need to 'listen' to your baby and support and encourage his own natural development as much as possible.

A general guide to follow:

4 to 6 months:
Breastfeed or four to seven formula feeds, iron fortified (rice) cereal two times a day
6 to 8 months:
Breastfeed or three to five formula feeds, iron fortified cereal (1/2 cup day) in one or two meals, fruits and veggies two times a day day, four ounces (non-allergenic) juice from a cup.
8 to 10 months:
Breastfeed or three to four formula feeds, 1/2 cup iron fortified cereal, juice from a cup, fruits and veggies two times day, protein foods like meat or egg yolk one or two times daily
10 to 12 months:
Breastfeed or three to four formula feeds, iron fortified infant cereal, breads, rice, noodles, unsweetened cereals, juice, all fresh fruits, peeled and seeded, vegetables, raw or soft cooked depending on chewing ability, tender pieces of meat, fish or poultry, nut butters, yogurt, cooked dried beans. all served over three meals a day and two or three snacks.

You are just beginning this long journey to the table, but it is fun and entertaining, and can be challenging at times.

Like This? Read These!
- Breastfeeding Support Message Board
- Nursing Toddlers Message Board
- Starting Solids Message Board
- Children's Allergies Message Board

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