Making healthy food choices for your baby during the first year of life is very important. Babies grow and develop rapidly in their first year, and feeding your baby a variety of healthy foods will help promote good health. Starting good eating habits at this early stage will also help your baby establish healthy eating patterns.
For the first four to six months of your baby’s life, breast milk or formula will provide your baby with all the nutrients that he or she needs to grow.
If you feed your baby formula or breast milk in a bottle, don’t let your baby go to sleep with the bottle. A bottle that is left in your baby’s mouth can cause tooth decay. If your baby needs comfort to go to sleep, try using a pacifier instead.
Between ages 4 and 6 months, your baby will begin to be ready to eat solid foods. When starting solid foods, give your baby one new food at a time. Give the new food for five to seven days before adding another new food. This way you can tell which foods your baby may be allergic to or cannot tolerate. If your baby has diarrhea, vomiting, a skin rash, coughing or wheezing, or stomach pain after trying a new food, it could be due to an allergic reaction.
Here are some more tips on feeding your baby solids:
Begin with small amounts of new solid foods, start with 1 or 2 teaspoons at first, and slowly increase the amount.
Infant rice cereal is a good first food since it is easy to digest and not likely to cause an allergic reaction. Once your baby is used to eating rice cereal, you can try adding vegetables, fruits, and then meats.
Once your baby can sit up without support, he or she may be ready to drink from a cup.
Try giving your baby small sips of water, breast milk, formula, or fruit juice (100 percent juice, without added sugar).
Only give your baby juice and other sweet drinks from a cup. Never offer juice from a bottle. This can increase your baby’s risk for tooth decay.
Once your baby has learned to drink from a cup, you can start to wean him or her from the bottle. Encouraging your baby to give up the bottle by his or her first birthday will help prevent tooth decay and ensure that your baby is getting enough nutrients from solid foods.
Prevent choking by avoiding hot dogs, chunks of cheese, nuts, seeds, whole beans, round candies, popcorn, hard pieces of raw vegetables or fruits, uncut grapes, plain wheat germ, and peanut butter. Always make sure your baby is seated upright while eating and is within your range of sight.
Avoid honey in any form for your child’s first year because it can cause a serious type of food poisoning in infants.
Cow’s milk should not be added to your baby’s diet until he or she is at least 1 year old. Cow’s milk does not provide the proper nutrients for your baby.
Cooked egg yolks can be added to your baby’s diet after age 8 months, but you should wait until after one year to introduce egg whites or whole eggs.
“Feeding Infants: A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs.” United States Department of Agriculture, July 2002. www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/feeding_infants.html. Accessed 2013.
“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay. Accessed 2013.