Your Baby’s Menu

Baby holding menuWhether you make your own or buy ready-to-eat baby food, these are examples of food choices you can make:

Bread. After your baby is about 6 to 8 months old, it is okay to give him bread. However, if you or someone in your family is allergic to bread, your baby may also be allergic to it. Start with bread or crackers that do not contain wheat. If your baby can eat wheat, offer him small pieces of whole-wheat bread, pita bread, or bagels.

Cereal. Plain rice cereal, mixed with formula or breast milk, is usually the first food pediatricians recommend for babies. After 6 months of age, try adding fruit to the cereal. Applesauce and bananas are good first fruits. How thick you make the cereal should depend on your baby’s eating skills. Do not sweeten cereal with sugar or honey.

At first, your baby will eat only a few teaspoons. Eventually, he should eat about a 1/2 cup of iron-fortified cereal a day. If cereal is your baby’s only source of iron, keep an iron-fortified cereal as part of his diet until he is about 18 months old. If he is drinking formula with iron or is eating meat, talk with your pediatrician about how much iron your baby is getting.

Unsweetened, dry adult cereals (Cheerios) are good finger snacks.

Fruit. Fresh fruits can be mashed when your baby first starts eating, or cut into small pieces when he is a little older. During his meal, serve your baby vegetables and meats first, and offer fruits as dessert. Given a choice, babies often fill up on the sweet taste of fruits over other foods.

“Real” desserts at this stage are not a good idea. Desserts offer little nutrition and lots of sugar. Fruit or yogurt are better choices.

Juice. Start with non-citrus fruit juices, such as apple, banana, and pear. Be careful not to give your baby too much juice. Not only is it filling, too much can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps. Limit servings to 4 ounces (1/2 cup). If you give your baby juice often, dilute it to half water and half juice. Avoid adult vegetable juices; they often have too much sodium.

Meats. When your baby is 7 to 10 months old, he will probably be eating 3 meals a day. Solid foods will make up more of his diet, and he will drink less breast milk or formula. As he begins drinking less “milk,” he will need to get protein from other food sources, such as ground or finely chopped meat or poultry. Meats are often babies’ least favorite food. Without back teeth, meats are hard to chew and can make him gag. Try giving meat to him warmed, pureed, and mixed with his favorite vegetable.

Meats are a good source of iron; they also provide vitamin B, niacin, and riboflavin.

Vegetables. In early infancy, commercially prepared spinach, beets, turnips, and collard greens are better for your baby than homemade. Homemade versions of these vegetables tend to have too many nitrates. Peas, corn, green beans, squash, mixed vegetables, and sweet potatoes are better choices for homemade baby food.

More About Starting Your Baby on Solids Foods

When should I offer solid foods and what should those foods be?
Is Your Baby Ready to Try Solid Foods?
Changes in Bowel Movements
Feeding Himself
Shopping For Baby’s Food
Your Baby’s Menu
Food Supplements
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Preventing Poisoning and Choking

Feeding Tips for Months 8 and 9

Until now, your baby has been eating the basics: cereal, milk, yellow and green vegetables and a few bland fruits. Unless your baby has developed an allergy or problems eating, now is a good time to begin introducing a variety of new foods. It’s more nutritious for your baby to eat fruits, vegetables and meats separately; commercially prepared “dinners” usually have filler or starch.

Offer your baby strained meats, such as beef, lamb, and chicken; these are good sources of protein and iron. You can give your baby eggs, but start with only the yolk. If the yolk is tolerated, try the egg white after a few days.

Use a fork or blender to prepare:
• a ripe banana
• mashed potatoes thinned with a little formula or breast milk
• melon (be careful to remove all seeds)
• soft-cooked vegetables such as carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes