What age should parents introduce solid foods to babies?

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The World Health Organization recommends “exclusive breastfeeding babies up to 6 months old, with continued breastfeeding and appropriate complimentary foods up to two years and beyond.”

But local dietitians say introducing solid foods to babies as early as 4 to 6 months, depending on the baby, can be beneficial.

Topeka Hy-Vee dietitian Amber Groeling said what newer emerging research is showing, is somewhere in between that 4-6 month window introducing those highly allergic foods like peanuts and eggs can actually help prevent food allergies.

“You do want to look for signs with your baby, to make sure they are developmentally ready for foods and solids.  So they should be sitting up. They should lose the reflexology of where they automatically root and put the food at the beginning of their mouth or spit it out.”

Baby-led weaning is one option for parents, skipping pureed foods and begin right away with soft solid foods.  Regardless of your approach, Amber suggests introducing healthy foods from the start.

“Starting with fruits and vegetables, because we do want our babies to develop an affinity or taste for those fruits and vegetables,” said Groeling.

Two popular starter foods for babies today, are avocados and puree or finely ground meat. But, once babies begin eating solid foods, how much should they eat and when?

“Once they are starting out eating solid foods, they really need to be eating 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Just a very similar recommendation to an adult, but a much smaller amount. Their tummies are obviously a lot smaller, so really just 1-2 tablespoons is all they need in one setting,” said Groeling.

Although the United States tends to recommend bland foods for babies at first, dietitians are boasting the flavor differences other countries tend to lean towards.

“Other countries are adding a lot more flavor like cinnamon, garlic, or cumin right from the get go to the babies foods.  New research is showing that you really raise a much more adventurous eater (by doing this) and they are going to be a lot less likely to be picky,” said Groeling.

For mom’s relying on formula, Amber says most brands are pretty similar nutrient wise. More broken down options are available, depending on the baby’s individual needs, such as colic or gassiness.  Babies who are exclusively breastfed, tend to need more iron and vitamin d added to their diets.

 

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