Introducing Solid Foods to Infants

Janis Hunter
Home & Garden Information Center

Infants between four and six months of age can begin eating solid foods, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Introduce them to single-ingredient, smooth foods that are easily swallowed. Offer one or two teaspoons of food mixed with a little formula, water or breast milk until it is the thickness of cream. As the baby wants more to eat, increase the amount to one or two tablespoons of food, two to three times a day.

It does not matter what solid foods are offered first. However, many doctors recommend offering cereals first. Start with iron-fortified rice cereal, since babies are least likely to be allergic to it, and some infants are sensitive to wheat that first year. Serve other single-grain cereals before introducing mixed grains. To help the baby’s body absorb the iron in cereal, provide vitamin C-rich fruits and juices along with it.

Try only one new food at a time. Give the baby about a week to adjust to it before offering another new food. This time allows you to watch for signs of an allergic reaction (e.g. rash, hives, coughing, diarrhea or vomiting) and determine which food may have caused it. A baby less than one year of age should not be given egg whites, citrus fruits, nuts, fish, shellfish or chocolate, because these foods may cause allergic reactions.

Don’t serve mixed-ingredient foods (e.g. chicken and vegetables) until each food has been given separately, in case the baby is allergic to one of them. If you buy mixed-ingredient baby foods, read the Nutrition Facts label and choose items with at least three or four grams of protein per container.

When a baby’s teeth start to appear and they can make chewing motions, they are ready for mashed and finely-chopped foods. Avoid foods that may choke, including items that are round and firm, slippery, sticky, cut in large chunks, or can be put in their mouths whole.

Refer to HGIC 4102, Introducing Solid Foods to Infants for more feeding tips and signs that your baby is ready for solid foods.

Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.