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It is important to know that at six months of age your baby should be ready to begin solids. Start by introducing cereal into your baby’s diet but use only single grain cereals. Those are rice, barley, and oatmeal.

It is important to know that your baby should be ready to begin solids at age six months. Start by introducing cereal into your baby’s diet but use only single grain cereals. Those are rice, barley, and oatmeal.

You could try each new cereal for 3-4 days before starting the next one. You should use grains that are high in iron and vitamins. Avoid using grains that come mixed with formula because formula may be different than the one your baby takes. Moreover, the cereal may be a mixture of grains, and you child could be allergic or intolerant to one of them. Start with one teaspoon of dry cereal and mix it with one ounce of breast milk or formula once a day. Gradually increase the dry cereal to three tablespoons, and then to three tablespoons twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening. [1, 2]

The cereal mixture should be thin and runny at first because your baby is not adjusted to the texture of thick and solid food. 

Do not add sugar, honey, syrup or salt to the baby’s cereal. Your child does not know the difference so do not supplement it.  

Do not feed your child high-nitrate vegetables such as beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, spinach, and turnips, until after six months of age or even later. 

You should let your child decide how much to eat. When feeding your baby, look for signs of hunger and fullness: your child will shut his mouth, turn her head, or push food away when she has had enough to eat. Do not force your baby to eat more when he has had enough. Children who are still hungry will continue to open their mouths for food and may be upset when you take the food away from them. 

Always introduce one new food type at a time and wait at least three days before adding another new food. Do not put cereals or other solids in a bottle, but feed your child with a spoon. 

From Birth to Six Months of Age

Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Period. Breastfeeding is the most natural; it protects your child from viruses, bacteria, and allergies and strengthens the bond between mother and child. Babies should be exclusively breastfed until the sixth month, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding your child, along with eating solid foods, until the age of two. [3, 4]

If you do not breastfeed, do not supplement with cow's milk, but use infant formula, which is by US standards iron fortified. 

Babies do not need solid foods until they are six months of age, although some caregivers start introducing solids when their child is as young as three or four months. 

If you notice your child is vomiting after eating or is being colicky, this is a definite sign your child's intestines are not ready for solid food, and you should wait at least a month before introducing solids again. [1,2,3,4]  

Your child must try different tastes and textures. The majority of babies are ready for solid foods at six months, some a month or two later, some a bit sooner. Signs your child is ready for solid food is when your baby sits and holds his head up. 

Breastfed babies need 400 IU of vitamin D each day from a vitamin supplement, but formula fed babies do get enough vitamin D from their feeding formula. If your child drinks both breast milk and formula, ask your pediatrician if you need to supplement with a vitamin D or not, because at six months old your child needs more nutrients, especially iron. [5

From Six to Nine Months of Age

Continue to breastfeed or offer iron-fortified infant formula. Do it whenever your baby is hungry: about 720 -1250 ml each day. As your baby eats more solids, they will gradually drink less breast milk or formula than they used to. 

Offer your child sips of water in a cup, but do not let your baby fill up on water. 

Your child does not need juice, but if you do decide to include juices in your child's diet, limit consumption of juices to 60 ml or 1/4 cup per day and serve it in a cup. Instead of offering him juice, give him a piece of fruit. [6

When starting solids, choose a time when the baby is content, interested and alert, and most of all hungry — approximately 2 hours or more after the child was last breastfed. Start offering solids 1-2 times per day and increase to 3-4 times per day. Sit down with your child and eat with your baby. Start with small amounts of high iron foods like iron-fortified infant cereal or well-cooked finely minced meat, poultry or white fish, mix with breast milk, formula, or water. You could also use a single-grain iron-fortified infant cereal to start with. 

Gradually increase the amounts of grains and liquid to about 60-125 ml each day. If your baby does not eat meat, aim for at least 125 ml of cereal, on average, each day by 9 months of age. 

New research suggests that introducing grains that contain gluten, for example oats, is not linked to an increased risk of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. [7, 8]

Offer well cooked, well-mashed vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, carrots, and mashed fruit like pears, peaches, and bananas. Start with small amounts and gradually increase to about 60-125 ml per day. 

Continue to offer meat. Start with poultry, then red meat, then white fish, while adding other high iron foods like cooked egg yolk, lentils, beans, and tofu. Add about 100 ml total per day. Around the time when your child is nine months old, try cottage cheese, plain yogurt, and pasteurized cheeses.

Do not puree foods; your child can eat soft, mashed foods and finger foods before his teeth appear. Offer finger foods such as pieces of cooked vegetables or soft fruit without the peel, like potato, yam, avocado, apricot, pear, banana, peach, plum. You could also offer strips of toast, cooked rice, cooked pasta, and oat rings cereal.

From 9 to 12 Months of Age

Liquid-wise offer breast milk or iron-fortified formula, about 625-950 ml per day, and water in a cup. If you're offering juice, limit to 125 ml per day, served in a cup and only  100% juice and do not let your baby sip on juice or diluted juice often during the day because it can cause tooth decay. Try to offer foods 5-6 times per day and offer solid foods before breast or formula feeding.

Iron-fortified infant cereal, about 125 ml or more per day and meat, white fish, poultry, cooked egg yolk, lentils, beans, and tofu are an essential part of your child's diet. Soft vegetables and fruits are also a recommended part of your baby’s nutrition from 9 to 12 months. You could also try with soft, diced family foods, but let your baby feed themselves, with fingers or a spoon. 

By the age of one, your baby should be eating the same meals as the rest of the family, except foods that may cause choking. Health professionals recommend that egg white should not be given to babies until they are one year old to lower the chance of an allergic reaction. [1,2,3,4,5]

What About Cow’s Milk?

World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding your child until he is 2 years old and even longer. Whole, full-fat, cow's milk may be substituted for breast milk or formula when your baby is older than one year because it is low in iron content, which your child needs.[9]  Babies and toddlers need fat in their diets for brain development. That is why you should choose whole milk until the age of two and after that age, you can offer low-fat milk. Drinks such as soy or rice beverages may be offered after your child is two years old, but check the label to make sure they are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. 

If you choose whole goat milk, make sure it is pasteurized, and since most goat milk does not contain vitamin D, your baby would need a vitamin D supplement. 

Fruit Juice

Fruit juices may be introduced at four months, but do not offer a new juice the same day as a new food type. Vitamin C fortified and no sugar added infant juices are an excellent source of vitamin C for your baby. Start with single ingredient juices made from apple, grape, and pear. [6] 

Do not offer citrus juices such as orange and grapefruit until six months of age, as children do not tolerate them well. 

It is essential not to give soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, or kool aid. These are not fruit juices and are mostly food coloring, sugar, and water, so read the label to be sure that juice is the first ingredient and avoid juice with added sugar. 

Your baby’s stools will change with the introduction of new foods; they are usually firmer and more smelly, so consider this a consequence of changes in your child's diet habits. 

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