Breastfeeding to Solid Food: Making the Transition
Your baby is thriving and getting the nutrients she needs from breastfeeding. As the months have passed, she’s even learned to drink breast milk from a bottle. Eventually, she will take the next nutritional step, but when is the right time to introduce her to solid food?
Breastfeeding (or formula-feeding) should be your baby’s main nutritional source for about six months, according to a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. As you introduce your baby to solid foods, the organization also recommends that you continue breastfeeding until 12 months if you are able. Either way, you should talk with your pediatrician about iron and vitamin D supplements during your baby’s first year.
By the time they’re about 6 months old, most babies are ready to start eating solid foods in addition to breastfeeding or drinking formula. They typically stop pushing food from their mouths with their tongues, and they start developing the coordination to swallow solid food.
Your baby might show other signs of being ready for solid foods including:
- Sitting with support
- Holding her head in an upright, steady position
- Showing interest in what you’re eating
- Placing toys or hands in her mouth
Before you begin introducing solid foods, talk to your pediatrician about any concerns about food allergies. Also, the Mayo Clinic notes that some foods should not be given to babies, including cow’s milk (not before age 1), honey (not before age 1); hard foods, such as nuts, seeds, hard candy and popcorn; and foods that might cause your baby to choke, such as chunks of cheese or meat, fruit chunks, raw vegetables and grapes; marshmallows; and peanut butter.
While continuing to feed breast milk or formula to your baby, you should start simply when introducing solid foods, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Give your baby foods with one ingredient without salt or sugar at first, and then wait from three to five days before feeding her a new food item. This will allow you to pinpoint the cause if your baby has a reaction like diarrhea or vomiting.
Consider providing important nutrients, such as zinc and iron, which are found in iron-fortified, single-grain cereal, pureed meats, lentils and beans. You can then add other single-ingredient foods like pureed vegetables and fruits. At about 9 months old, most babies can eat small servings of finely chopped foods like vegetables, soft fruits, cheese, pasta, baby crackers, dry cereal or well-cooked meat.
Talk with your pediatrician for more information about transitioning your baby from breastfeeding or formula-feeding to solid foods. For a physician referral, call (888) 828-9580 or find a doctor near you.