Age 4 to 6 Months: Starting Solids
Several developmental milestones indicate when your baby is ready to eat solid foods. He loses the "extrusion reflex," which used to make him spit out anything but liquids. He can sit up with support, hold his neck steady, and move his head from side to side. When you see those signs, don't delay: By the time he's 6 months old, your infant's natural iron stores are beginning to run out, and he needs more than he can get from milk alone.
Start with rice cereal, the grain least likely to cause allergies. Blend a teaspoon of cereal with several tablespoons of breast milk or formula, and feed it to your baby with a small, soft-tipped spoon. He'll eat only a bite or two at first. Gradually work up to thicker cereal, with feedings two to three times a day. Wait until he's 6 months old to introduce cereal containing barley, wheat, or oats. And do continue nursing or bottle-feeding -- cereal should supplement milk at this stage, not replace it.
Each time you let your baby sample a new food, wait at least three days before introducing another one. If your child has an allergic reaction, this makes it easier to determine what's causing it, says Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist in Houston. Diarrhea, rashes, repeated vomiting, and persistent fussiness are all possible signs of allergies.