Pregnancy and Beyond

Breast milk continues to be your baby's best food during this time. Most babies are ready for solid foods (baby foods) around 6 months of age. Your baby should be able to sit up and take food from a spoon when it is offered to her. Until solid foods are started, your baby will take increasing amounts of breast milk or infant formula to satisfy her nutritional needs.

Baby foods provide the needed nutrients as well as textures and consistencies that match your baby's developmental skills. Iron-fortified infant rice cereal is generally the first solid food used. It can be mixed with breast milk or formula to form a smooth, semi-liquid texture like cream soup.

When you start any new cereal or food, try just one new food at a time at weekly intervals. This gives your baby a chance to become familiar with each new taste. Discontinue the new food if your baby becomes extra fussy, gets diarrhea, or if a rash appears. This may indicate food intolerance. Wait a few weeks, then try the new food again.

All solid foods should be fed to your baby in a small spoon. Spoon-feeding helps your baby learn to use her lips, tongue, gums and teeth. It also aids speech development. Don't put baby foods or cereals in bottles or infant feeders unless your health care provider prescribes their use.

Babies usually have the skills to start drinking from a cup between 6 and 9 months of age. You will need to hold the cup to your baby's mouth until she can hold it herself. Like other aspects of feeding babies, this can be a messy job. Special cups that control spills are available. Once cup drinking is mastered, a regular cup should be used.

Unsweetened fruit juices should always be given from a cup. Formula can be offered from a cup at mealtimes, and water can be used between meals to quench your baby's thirst.

Finally, continue to keep mealtime pleasant. This is not the time to scold or force-feed. Mealtime should be a positive experience for both you and your baby.

To learn more about feeding babies at this age, visit the infant nutrition web pages of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. There you will find resources to download on topics such as food allergies, homemade baby food, and healthy weight.