One of the biggest milestones for your baby will be starting solid foods. Here’s a guide to help you with your baby’s first tastes:
Breastmilk or formula—still the main dish
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastmilk is recommended as the main source of a baby’s nutrition for the first year; in the absence of breastmilk, iron- fortified infant formulas are the most appropriate substitutes.
Single-grain infant cereal, such as GERBER® Rice Cereal made with gentle grains, is typically the first complementary food introduced to infants. It’s gentle because it’s made with single, natural grains that are easy to digest and its smooth, fine texture is developmentally appropriate for your baby’s first solid food. GERBER Rice Cereal provides important nutrients that are ideal at this stage and throughout the first year.
Introducing solids around the middle of the first year coincides with two events: your baby’s decreasing iron stores and her developmental readiness. Readiness for solids is what you can see—her ability to sit up with support, take and swallow food from a spoon—as well as what you can’t see.
When will you know the timing is right? Be sure to talk with your pediatrician or take our Solid Foods Quiz
Importance of iron
Most pediatricians recommend starting with an iron-rich cereal. GERBER infant cereals made with gentle grains provide an excellent source of this important nutrient and will help rebuild your baby’s naturally decreasing iron stores. Iron is important for physical growth and mental development. It also helps prevent iron deficiency anemia and is part of the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to every cell in the body.
Immune system support
Some infant cereals also offer nutrients and ingredients to help support your baby’s healthy immune system. GERBER® DHA & PROBIOTIC Rice Cereal has BIFIDUS BL™† beneficial cultures and a NUTRIPROTECT™ blend for infant cereals that includes vitamin E and zinc to help support a healthy immune system.
Start with single grains
Single-grain cereals are good ways to check for food intolerances and sensitivities. Rice cereal is usually introduced first, followed by oatmeal cereal. So give them a try, but be sure to wait about three days between each cereal to see how your baby tolerates them. Watch for allergic responses such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting. If any of these occur, eliminate the food from her diet and call your pediatrician.
Your baby’s first solids are really more like the consistency of runny milk. Mix 1 tablespoon of cereal with 4 to 5 tablespoons of breastmilk or formula to thicken it to a souplike consistency. Always use a spoon and not a bottle when feeding solids. It’s important that your baby gets used to the process of eating: sitting up, taking bites from a spoon, resting between bites and stopping when she’s full. Once she gets used to eating cereal, you can start to thicken the texture.
To learn more, download our Parents’ cereal guide
†Provides the live and active probiotic cultures Bifidobacterium lactis. Bifobacteria are the most abundant type of cultures found in the digestive system of breastfed babies.