You might be tempted to give your baby baby food at 3 months, but is this something you should do?
Starting solid foods is a great milestone for your baby. They are excited to try new tastes and textures. But solid foods need to be introduced to your child when he or she is ready, usually around the ages of four and six months. Until then, formula and breast milk is exactly what your child needs to grow and develop.
Rice cereal is usually the first “solid” food doctors recommend for your baby, but this will not occur until your child is between the ages of four and six months. For the first few months of their life, your child’s nutrient needs are best met by their mother’s breast milk or their formula, so there’s no need for baby food at 3 months.
Babies do not benefit from solid foods until they are older. First, they are not developmentally ready to deal with swallowing solids. They are physically unable to move solid food from the front of their mouth to the back for swallowing. Instead, your baby would gag.
Also, your baby’s digestive system cannot break down the complex molecules in proteins, fats and carbohydrates. For this reason, most solid foods would pass right through causing diarrhea, or they may get stuck, causing constipation.
Can I Give My Baby Baby Food at 3 Months? Answer: Not Recommended
Around the ages of four to six months, your child will be ready for solid food. By this age, your child will be able to move food from the front of their mouth to the back in order to swallow.
Your child’s pediatrician will probably want you to start with an iron-fortified rice cereal. These cereals provide the iron that is necessary in their diet. Also, the grain in rice cereal is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
So When Can You Give Them New Foods?
Rice cereal is often the first solid food used to introduce your baby to solids because it helps them practice eating and swallowing. Rice cereal is made with gentle ingredients and its smooth texture is developmentally appropriate for your baby. After rice cereal, your pediatrician will probably recommend oatmeal. This is why it’s essential to not give them baby food at 3 months. It’s a gradual process.
Cereal is now fed to your child using a spoon and not inside the bottle (as it was only a few years ago). Before your baby can start cereal, they must be able to sit up properly in a high chair or Bumbo and hold their head steady.
Always start with a small amount to help your baby learn. Cereal should be mixed with formula or breast milk, and eventually can be mixed with applesauce or other pureed fruits. Note that fruits should not be added to your child’s cereal until he or she has mastered cereal alone. Also, be sure to wait at least three days after adding a fruit to your child’s cereal to watch for an allergic reaction.
How to Introduce New Foods
When you start cereal, it is best to start at a time where your baby is most alert and happy (and of course, hungry). Use a small baby-size spoon that is coated to protect your baby’s gums. Since your baby will probably try to grab the spoon, place a small amount on their high chair tray so they can feel it.
Before you start feeding, make sure your baby has had a small amount of breast milk or formula so they are not overly hungry, which may make him or her crabby during this process.
If you find that your child does not take to cereal on the first try, do not give up hope. Spitting food back out is a natural reflex for your baby. If your child is screaming or refusing to take the cereal, stop and try again the next day. Starting your child on solids may take a few days for him or her to get used to. After all, the only thing they have used prior to this is a bottle or mom.
One Step at a Time
Remember, solid foods will become a staple in your child’s diet, but only when he or she is ready for them. Introducing baby food at 3 months to your child before he or she is ready may cause problems with their digestive system. Rice cereal is usually the first solid your child will be introduced to, and then slowly introduced to others.
If you have any questions about feeding solids to your child, it is recommended you consult your child’s physician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns more thoroughly.