The most important rule of thumb when introducing solids to a baby for the first time, is to introduce one new food at a time. This is so it will be easy to recognize which food a baby is allergic to, just in case. Baby's are ready to began solid foods once they have lost something called the tongue-thrust reflex. This usually happens around 3 to 4 months. It is still important for babies to drink breast milk or formula for the first year of life.
When you decide it's time to begin feeding your baby a solid food, began with a cereal. The safest to start out with this rice cereal since it is hypoallergenic. However, if no one else in your family is allergic to oatmeal, it's generally safe as well. Many mom's began feeding a baby cereal around 3 to 4 months old. You might want to talk this over with your baby's pediatrician.
After a week of feeding a baby one type of cereal with no complications, you can began a different type. For convenience, there is cereal in jars already prepared, however if you use the type in the box, you have control over the thickness.
When the baby is about 4 to 6 months old, it is safe to start introducing vegetables. Many doctors recommend that you begin with sweet potatoes or squash. Begin introducing a new vegetable once a week. Be sure to get strained 1st foods. Never prepare beets, carrots, greens, turnips or spinach from home because some commercial growers put chemicals that are harmful to babies in them. Baby food comes from a different source.
As your baby ages, you can graduate up to the 2nd foods. The third foods are more for toddlers. Begin introducing your baby to fruits. Juices should be held off until at least 9 months due the acid and sugar levels. Orange juice should not be given to a baby under the age of 1. White grape and pear juice are great starters. You can even weaken the juice with a bit of water.
It is okay to give your baby meat as long as it's pureed. You can find already prepared pureed meats mixed with rice and vegetables in the grocers baby food section.
When your baby has reach about 8 or 10 months, you can start introducing some table foods. Be aware that babies do not require condiments and seasonings. It's best to avoid putting these on their food. This will help them learn to appreciate foods with less butter, salt and such later in life.
You may decide to make your own baby food. Just please know ahead of time what you are doing and research it well. Many parents, who have the time and money, like making baby food from organic foods. Store the extra in ice trays in the freezer for later use.
Warnings: Be sure to cut up anything that poses a chocking hazard. Things shaped like bananas should be cut up into smaller pieces. Never leave a baby or small child unattended while eating. Learn what to do in the event of a choking situation. Do not feed baby food from the jar, unless you plan to throw it away after use. Putting a spoon that has been eaten from back into the jar, puts germs in the food and contaminates it.
Allergies: If you suspect your child is having an allergic reaction to a food, take them to the ER immediately. Allergic reactions in food can cause inside swelling that is very dangerous. Look for difficulty in breathing, itching rashes, wheezing or any unusual behavior.
Helpful Hint: Many babies fall asleep when first beginning to eat baby food. There are now many models of highchairs available that recline back. These are very handy for when baby falls asleep at the table.
Highchair Safety: Avoid buying an out-of-date highchair. Many of these do not have the safety features that the news ones have. For example, it's important to buckle a baby in the highchair. Even a quick answer of the phone can turn into a disaster without this feature. Just like car seats, highchairs are being manufactured with a 5 point safety harness. Get an highchair that will adjust as your baby grows. Make sure the top is secure and latched before using. Don't put an highchair close to an item baby can grab onto. You don't want your baby knocking something onto themself, or completely tipping the chair over. Never leave your baby unattended in a highchair. The wider the base, the better because it is less easy to fall over. Try to avoid buying a highchair with wheels, it might be easier to push around, but it's one more thing to remember to do, that is locking the wheels.