Introducing your child to solids as a new parent can be daunting, especially with so many misleading articles and information out there. We consulted with our resident Pediatric Dietician, Ayelet Goldhaber, to address the top questions and myths regarding when and how to introduce your child to solids. As always, we recommend you consult with your pediatrician before making any big changes to your child’s diet and eating habits.
Do I need to wait 3 days between introducing new foods to my child?
There seems to be some confusion around how long you have to wait between introducing new foods. There is no need to wait 3 days between introducing foods that aren’t in the group of major allergens. These foods include wheat, dairy, egg, soy, fish, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. Why the 3 day rule? These foods are the most common sources of food allergies- this doesn’t mean you can’t be allergic to other foods, but these are the most common. The 3 day rule allows you to determine if a reaction is related to a specific food.
When is the best time to introduce solids to my infant? How will I know she’s ready?
The AAP (America academy of pediatrics) recommends introducing new foods at 4-6 months. There are some signs to look for that will help guide you in terms of when your baby is ready though. Use these signs, along with chronological age to make your decision.
- Head control- baby should demonstrate head and neck control on their own
- Should be sitting unassisted for a few seconds
- Lip smacking
- Eagerness to eat your food
- Still showing signs of hunger after usual bottle/breast feeds.
What are the best first foods to introduce? Including snacks, recipes
There is no right or wrong here. Whether its baby-led weaning or purees, you get to decide what foods are best for your baby. Personally, I preferred starting with purees for my kiddos, it gave me a sense of calm and I took comfort in mixing the foods myself. I also love playing with different food combos, usually foods that I’m eating myself in different textures. Baby-led weaning can also be a great resource, it presents food in its natural form without having to puree, which many parents appreciate. Both make for a fun and messy experience!
- Mash peanut butter into apple sauce – you can melt pb on the stove to make it thinner - Mewe is great for this!
- Pouches are a great way to incorporate foods you don’t usually have lying around. For example, you may not have a pumpkin on standby, but a pouch with pureed pumpkin mixed with yogurt is a great way to add some pizzazz to your usual breakfast. It’s also a good resource for snacking on-the-go.
My baby doesn’t seem to like the foods I’m giving her - should I stop for a while? Or try different foods? When should I try again?
Consider a review of a few things that may need some editing before restarting, for example:
Seating - check that your baby has a foot stand for the highchair, if not you can use a box or stack of books to plant feet firmly against a surface. And a highchair is more preferable than bouncy seat or lounger.
Environment & Atmosphere - How is the mood when feeding is taking place? Is everyone calm or can baby sense stress? Always a good idea to check any stresses or anxiety at the door before sitting down to feed baby. It helps to eat at the same time yourself, it may put you in a good mood, and this helps baby learn from role modeling too!
How Food is Presented - You can change the presentation and texture of foods, too. If you are starting with purees and your baby seems disinterested, go ahead and try some baby-led weaning. And vice-versa! Unless your baby is having difficulty with swallowing or breathing, you likely do not need to stop all together. But do check with your pediatrician if you are concerned.
I’m worried about allergies - what’s the lowest risk ways to introduce foods and determine if they have allergies?
Offer in a small quantity for about 3 days, you can offer other foods during this time but stick with foods you have already introduced and know your baby can tolerate well. This will help determine what a reaction is linked to if indeed there is one.
Things I should ask my doctor about:
Be sure to get clarity or reassurance on how your baby is growing. If weight gain is going well it will hopefully reduce any stress related to ensuring your baby is getting the right amount of food. This may help ease any stress involved in starting foods. Be sure to mention any rash or eczema concerns, too. Most importantly, you are your baby’s advocate; make your voice heard and leave feeling empowered to make the best choices for you and your family.
Ayelet Goldhaber is a registered pediatric dietitian and mother of two who holds a master's degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. She completed her clinical rotations at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and is currently part of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Team at a prominent children’s hospital in New York City.
You can book your one-on-one session with Ayelet here