My younger son just turned six months old. Time for solid food! I thought I remembered the drill from when my oldest started eating solids, but it turned out my memory had gone the way of my waistline. I had a lot of questions: how many days should I spend introducing each new food? Can rice cereal be mixed with water, or should I avoid any water until my son’s older? Oddly, it was hard to find all the answers on the Interwebs. I thought I’d be able to find a site that broke it all down for me, but instead the answers I sought were scattered in different places. Ah, yes, such is life, my friends; such is life.
I thought I’d gather my questions and answers into a sort of Baby Food 101, in case anyone else is having trouble finding this information.
Do I heat up rice cereal?
Heat up the breast milk or formula, then mix it with the rice cereal. Don’t microwave breast milk; it breaks down the nutrients. You can also serve rice cereal with cold breast milk or formula. My son’s reaction to warm rice cereal? Meh. Cold? Also meh.
Once I’ve started with rice cereal, do I continue, or is it just useful as a first food?
My pediatrician says it’s a good idea to continue feeding baby rice cereal, because it’s a good source of iron. You can mix it with fruit and vegetable purees.
How many days do I feed my baby each new food before I move on?
My pediatrician says five; WebMD says three to five. If your baby has an allergic reaction, this system makes it easier to identify which food is causing it.
Can I mix rice cereal with water?
Yes. Mixing it with breast milk at first, however, might make it more appetizing for baby.
Can I add spices and seasonings to my baby’s food?
BabyCenter says yes. BabyCenter India advises following the same rules as you would with introducing new foods: introduce one spice at a time over four or five days to make sure it doesn’t cause an allergic reaction. Don’t add salt or sugar to baby food, though.
How much food should my baby eat at each sitting?
An aside: While searching for the answer to this question, I came upon this confusing statement on the Earth’s Best site:
“Although the American Academy of Pediatrics’ section on breastfeeding supports exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, its committee on nutrition says that solids can be introduced between 4 and 6 months.”
Huh? Does anyone talk to each other over at the AAP, or what? Maybe the breastfeeding committee and the nutrition committee have beef with one another. Beef, get it? Anyway. According to Earth’s Best (makers of organic baby food), babies 6 to 9 months of age need 2 to 4 tablespoons of baby food, twice or three times a day. Dr. Sears emphasizes that the amount may vary from day to day: “baby may take a couple tablespoons one day and only a teaspoon the next.”
When it comes to feeding my babies, I pretty much follow doctors’ orders. I have friends, though, who flouted all the rules, and their kids are very adventurous eaters. What about you? Do you follow the rules, or scoff at conventional wisdom?