We just started our 5 month-old, 16-17 lb. baby on solid food. How much food should we give him at this point? And when should we start giving him new foods? In a week? In a few days?
Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Congratulations on beginning the feeding adventure!
Children between four and six months of age who are already taking solid foods should be fed solids once or twice a day. The ideal timing for one of the feedings is thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. This will produce the maximum drowsiness for an excellent nights sleep.
The first few days most kids will tend to push food right back out with his tongue. This is because babies have a thrust reflex causing their tongue to thrust back out anything that is put in their mouths. Take plenty of videos of this very cute stage because it passes, oh so quickly.
Within several days your son will begin to get the idea of closing his lips and swallowing. Once he does, you can begin to monitor the amount of food he needs. In order to determine this, (which is not a pre-determined amount, but varies from child to child) let him feed himself or, if you use a spoon, keep moving the spoon towards his mouth and look for signs that he is losing interest. If he turns his head away, clamps his lips shut, or appears bored, it is time to stop. Otherwise, keep moving the spoon to his mouth as long as he keeps opening it and looking happy.
Healthy children are very good at regulating their own intake. By resting between bites, and stopping when your child is starting to get full, you will be laying an excellent foundation for good eating habits throughout his life.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no good reason to wait between introducing new foods to your baby. Many doctors still recommended waiting 3 to 5 days because of food allergies. Waiting between new foods doesn’t decrease food allergie; it only makes it a bit easier to figure out which food was responsible. But it also trains kids to be pickier eaters. Only a small percentage of babies ever have food allergies, and it’s pretty easy to determine the possible offending foods, should food allergies arise. I vote for variety!