Food Introduction for Infants
During the springtime we focus on setting the stage for good absorption and low inflammation. For kids and adults, much of this will include some sort of spring cleaning. However, for infants, we focus simply on developing a healthy digestive tract and giving optimal nutrition. Many parents ask me for information about when to start infants on different types of foods. The needs of each infant will vary somewhat; however, the following is a guideline for food introduction and timing.
A good rule of thumb is to wait until baby seems very interested in what you’re eating—reaches for the spoon or food etc. Baby spends his or her last months in the womb storing iron to use in the first few months of life because milk is a poor source of iron. For this reason, many of the first foods listed are higher in iron. Rice cereal is often recommended as a first food; this is not necessarily a problem but it tends to be somewhat lower in nutrients and can be quite constipating so in this chart isn’t recommended until 7-8 months. Remember, at the beginning foods are more something to explore rather than a source of nutrition; let baby experiment and see what he or she likes.
At first, food should of course be pureed—a stick blender is a wonderful tool for this job! Over time, though, baby may start to prefer food cut in small pieces (and soft!) that he or she can feed herself. Some babies will quickly tire of the texture of pureed food. Baby food in jars can be very handy in a pinch, but it is much more economical (and tastes better!) to make your own and freeze it in larger quantities. When choosing jarred food, keep in mind whether you would want to eat it yourself—if the food is a nice color and tastes like the food (aka carrots should taste like carrots and be orange!) then baby is more likely to enjoy it.
Before 6 months, unless in a very specific situation that would require extra hydration, baby should not require any drinks other than breast milk. Between 6 and 12 months water should be the only other drink; juices tend to be very high in sugar and unnecessary.
The reason for waiting for specific foods is to ensure that baby’s digestive tract is as well developed as possible to avoid digestive problems or other allergies. Because of their high allergenicity, it is best to wait to introduce the following foods until 18-24 months, especially if there are known allergies or food allergies in the family: Whole cow milk, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts.
Food Introduction Schedule
Blueberries (frozen for teething)
Meats (very well cooked and ground)
Yogurt (cow milk)