Feature Articles: Children
Baby’s First Food
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and
Health Education Specialist in Barton County
Starting your infant on something other than milk is a milestone in the life of your child. During this important time in your child’s life, it is important to know what to look for as a sign that your child is ready to eat solid foods. The order in which foods are introduced is also important.
Babies are born with a tongue thrust reflex. When their lips
are touched, their tongue moves out of their mouth. This reflex
helps them to be able to suck from a breast or bottle. They also
have a gag reflex that pushes any objects from the back of the
mouth back out. At about four to six months of age, both of
these reflexes begin to diminish. This is a physical sign that
your infant is ready to take food from a spoon. Other mouth
patterns to watch for as a sign of readiness for solids include
the infant opening his or her mouth when a spoon approaches and
they can draw in their upper and lower lip when a spoon is
removed from their mouth.
There are physical developmental signs to look for before you
start your infant on solid foods. An infant should be able to
sit up with support and they should have good head control. Tilt
your head to one side and try to take a bite of food. It is
difficult. Imagine how frustrating that might be for an infant
if that is their first experience eating solid foods.
Rice cereal, mixed with mother’s milk or infant formula (one
part cereal to four parts of liquid to begin with) is the
recommended first food for an infant. It is easy to digest and
it is rare for an infant to have an allergy to rice. Offer the
baby one to two teaspoons of cereal twice a day. The food should
be offered from a spoon and not added to the bottle. It is
important for the baby to develop his or her eating skills and
there is an increased chance of choking if the food is in a
bottle. Oatmeal and barley are good cereals to follow rice.
When new foods are introduced, offer that one new food for
several days before introducing another unfamiliar food. This is
so you can watch for signs of a food intolerance or allergy.
Some signs that your baby is allergic or sensitive include a
rash, wheezing, diarrhea or vomiting.
Enjoy this time with your baby. When you are feeing your baby, you are helping your child develop positive eating habits for life.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009