The introduction of solid food to your infant is one of the most common questions parents ask. The key is to introduce new foods slowly beginning at 6 months of age and avoid mixed foods that have various food allergens. There are certain foods you should be most cautious about. These include egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish and seafood. Introducing solid food prior to 4 months is associated with an increased risk of allergic disease. During the first six months of life exclusive breast feeding is recommended.
At 6 months infant cereal can be added first. Start with rice cereal and then proceed to the other whole grain cereals including oatmeal and barley. At 7 months begin vegetables and start with the green vegetable before the sweeter carrots and sweet potatoes. Generally add only one new food type per week and one food group per month. After vegetables have been introduced begin fruit and then meat. As solid intake increases formula or breast milk intake decreases. Make sure your child’s urine remains clear and urine output is at least 4 times per day. By age 1 year your child should be taking 3 food groups three times per day. The key is moderation and variety. Keep a log of the foods you introduce and look for adverse reactions including mood changes, skin rashes or GI upset.
If your child is at high risk for allergy the following schedule should be followed: supplemental foods 6 months, 12 months dairy products, 24 month’s egg and at least 36 months for peanut, tree nuts, fish and seafood. Certain processed foods including beef and kiwifruit that are less allergenic when cooked should be served cooked and homogenized.
The key is to follow a reasonable schedule that meets your child’s needs and preferences. There is no one right way of introducing food. Listen and watch your child. Respond to her cues and as always remember she is watching and smelling what you eat and how much you enjoy the foods you eat.