1. Don't start until your baby is ready.
- Baby's intestines are immature when very young, causing something sometimes referred to as "leaky gut." The intestines are unable to stop potentially harmful substances from getting through into the baby's system. Between about four and seven months, the intestinal lining begins to mature.
- Breast milk is high in Immunoglobulin A (IgA), which coats the stomach of the baby and keeps unwanted substances from passing through. In the very early months, baby is not able to produce much IgA. When the intestines mature, they secrete IgA to coat the lining.
- Food allergies can occur when food molecules are able to enter the baby's system through the "leaky gut" and get into the baby's blood. The immune system may then produce antibodies to that particular food, causing a food allergy (essentially, your body attacks the food as if it were an illness). By about six to seven months, the intestinal lining is more mature and able to filter offending allergens. This is why waiting until baby is a bit older is a good idea, especially if there is any family history of a particular food allergy.
- Many parents prefer to wait until baby starts showing interest in food, such as watching you eat, grabbing at food on your plate, or mimicking your eating behaviors.
2. Start with only one food at a time.
- This is done so you can watch for any adverse reactions. If you notice any, then you automatically know which food caused the reaction. Some reactions to watch for include red rash, vomiting, or diarrhea. Talk with your doctor about other reactions to watch for.
3. Wait four to seven days between offering new foods.
- This will give you time to watch for adverse reactions. Also, as an added bonus, this gives your baby time to get used to a food. Some people estimate that your child has to be exposed to a new food, particularly vegetables, 15 - 25 times before he/she will taste it and really enjoy it. So the four to seven days between foods is good!
4. Consider starting with something other than the usual recommended first foods.
- Bananas and rice cereal are oftentimes constipating for baby. This makes baby very cranky and sore! You can certainly try them, of course, but if your baby becomes constipated and cranky, consider switching to something else for awhile. Avocado is a great consistency and a great first food. You could also try sweet potato. Mix the new food with a little bit of breast milk or formula so baby finds it's taste somewhat familiar and the consistency is watery enough for a young baby.
5. Milk first, please!
- Baby still needs breast milk or formula first. It still provides the best nourishment and nutrition that baby needs until baby is about one year old. If you are breastfeeding, giving baby milk first is essential to keeping up your milk supply. Offer baby a bit of food after formula or breast milk.
Here is a great article about beginning solids.