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.