kid girl eating healthy food at home / blog - introducing solid foods

Your child’s eating progress can seem like a journey. Once they have mastered consuming more mashed-up foods, it could be time to move on to introducing solid foods. This is a big step in your child’s development. It comes with challenges and questions, but every parent has this transition to make. 

Introducing Solid Foods To Your Child 

Introducing solid foods to your child can be a fun process when you learn about it beforehand. At HealthPark Pediatrics, we want your child’s transitions to go as smoothly as possible for both of you. Find even more resources on our site here

When should I begin to introduce solid foods to my child? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides surefire signs of development in a child that can lead to you beginning the process of feeding them solids. The average age is around 6 months to introduce food other than breast milk or formula. Younger than 4 months old is not advised. This can look different for every child as they do not all develop at the same rate.  

Look out for your child doing these things: 

  • Sits up alone or with support.
  • Is able to control the head and neck. 
  • Opens the mouth when food is offered. 
  • Swallows food rather than pushes it back out onto the chin.
  • Brings objects to the mouth.
  • Tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food. 
  • Transfers food from the front to the back of the tongue to swallow. 

Once you begin to notice these changes in your child, you can move towards providing them with solid foods at feeding times. 

What are the best solid foods to introduce my child?

Most agree that the type of solid food you first introduce to your child does not necessarily matter. It is more about the rate and timing of the introduction. While this mostly begins around 6 months of age, by 7 or 8 months your child could be consuming foods from a variety of different food groups. 

One place to start on solids would be focusing on single-ingredient foods. This allows you to see the child’s reaction to the food before moving on to combinations. Avoid foods with high sugar and salt components. The Mayo Clinic discusses the importance of incorporating iron and zinc in your child’s diet. These nutrients can be found in pureed meats and single-grain, iron-fortified cereals. 

What is the best way to introduce solid foods? 

When babies first experience the new foods and textures, they often reject them. The key here is not forcing the issue and giving them time to adjust to the fresh food. This may mean giving it another week to try again. By making meals enjoyable with opportunities for exploration and patience, you can move your child towards solid food success. Once you have given them time before trying again if there is still a problem this would be the time to talk to a healthcare professional to ensure there is not something more going on. 

How do I prepare for the possibility of food allergies?

By utilizing the single-ingredient introduction idea, you can observe how your child reacts to new foods entering their diet. After three to five days, if you have not observed possible signs of a food allergy, the food should be fine to continue. 

These signs could look like:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

The Mayo Clinic declares the potentially allergenic foods as: 

  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Egg
  • Cow milk products
  • Wheat
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • Fish
  • Soy

As children are experiencing new foods, they could have a reaction that does not stick for their entire lives. If you have close relatives with food allergies, try out that food in the comfort of home rather than a restaurant and keep an oral antihistamine close by. 

Introducing solid foods to your child is easy once you follow this guide. They will get to experience a whole new world of food and decide what they like best. Do you have more questions about the best ways to bring solid foods into your child’s life? Schedule an appointment on our website or give us a call at (919) 896-7066 to speak with one of our physicians.