Eat This, Not That: A Guide to Baby Food

August 17, 2022 Infant

Starting to feed solids to your baby can be both exciting and scary. As a parent, it’s important to know what foods are safe to give to your baby depending on their age and development. It’s not always about your child’s age, but more so about their skills. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies are usually ready to start feeding solids at around 4-6 months but it’s best to continue breastfeeding exclusively until at least 6 months.

Every baby is different and it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and not rush into things. Starting solids too early puts your child at risk for food allergies and/or becoming overweight. Remember, your baby’s digestive system is still maturing, and studies show starting solids too early can cause more harm than good.

YOUR BABY IS READY TO START SOLIDS IF THEY:

Starting solids means your baby gets to experiment with food using all their senses: touch, smell, sight, and taste. As a parent it’s important to make their first experience with food safe and successful. Choking, allergies, textures and food safety are all issues to consider when first giving solid foods to your baby. Below are guidelines to help your journey with solids be fun, safe, and successful.

5-7 MONTHS

8-9 MONTHS

10-12 MONTHS

Safe and Healthy Food Choices to Offer Your 6–12 month old

EAT THIS NOT THAT WHY?
Turkey slices, cut up chicken Hot dog Choking hazard.
Too much salt for baby.
Soft smooth peanut butter, spread thinly on cracker or toast or mixed with mashed fruit Peanuts, nuts Choking hazard. Avoid hard, round food such as nuts, hard candy and seeds. Also avoid sticky foods like chunky peanut butter or marshmallows which are hard to swallow. Allergy risk. If there is family history of food allergies talk to your pediatrician.
Grapes cut up “pea-sized” Raisins/dried fruit, whole grapes or cherries Choking hazard.
Human milk, infant formula or water Cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk; sweet drinks like juice, tea, soda or punch Lacks proper nutrition and hard to digest.
Risk of obesity. Limit juice to 4 oz a day.
Applesauce, mashed banana Honey Risk of infant botulism.
Cereals (cheerios/puffs) Popcorn, tortilla chips, hard candies Choking hazard.
Pasteurized milk products (yogurt, cut up cheese) Unpasteurized milk
products
Risk of food borne illness.
Cooked or soft veggies - mashed/chopped broccoli/carrots Raw carrots, celery Choking hazard.
Cooked boneless fish, mashed beans, chopped egg Raw/undercooked meats or fish Risk of food borne infection.
Soft, ripe fruits - seedless watermelon, strawberries, cut mango, soft peaches, melon Hard fruits (apple, unripe pear) Choking hazard.
Animal crackers, whole grain crackers Cookies Lacks proper nutrition.

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: