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4 Mythbusters about Starting Your Baby on Solid Foods

Child being fed

Starting your baby on solid foods might be one of the most daunting steps in your infant’s development. Don’t let these four myths get in the way of a smooth transition to table time.

Myth #1: All babies are ready for solid foods at 4 months of age

Readiness for solid foods involves a variety of factors including head and neck control, ability to sit in at least a semi-reclined position, ability to work food from the front of the mouth to the back, and the loss of the tongue thrust reflex (using the tongue to push a spoon out of the mouth).

If your baby was premature, has delay in typical development, has food allergies or intolerances, or other health conditions, your doctor may recommend delaying the introduction of solid foods.

Myth #2: Introduce pureed foods and cereals by first placing them in a bottle

One of the reasons to introduce solid foods from a spoon is to teach a baby how to accept a bite of food into his or her mouth and use the mouth muscles to work it backward to be swallowed.

Putting baby foods into the bottle does not teach this skill. It may cause your baby to eat too many calories, or get an upset stomach or other intolerance as his or her system may not be ready for baby foods. And it does not help babies sleep through the night sooner.

Myth #3: Rice cereal is the perfect first food for infants

Until recently, rice cereal was almost universally recommended as the first food a baby should eat.

Lately, however, there is concern that typical rice cereal is not nutritious because it is not a whole grain and may contribute to overweight and obesity and promote a craving for simple carbohydrates. Recent studies have also shown there to be high levels of arsenic contamination in rice and rice cereals (organic products are similarly affected).

Many healthcare providers now recommend one of the other single-grain cereals such as oatmeal or barley instead of rice.

Myth #4: Packaged or prepared baby foods are more nutritious than homemade…. OR homemade baby foods are more nutritious than prepared, store-bought products.

Neither claim has been substantiated by research. Prepared baby food is certainly clean, convenient, and tested for contamination and nutritional content. Making your own baby food may be cheaper, and it allows you to control what your baby eats.

Most fruits, vegetables, and meats may be safely prepared at home, but avoid making beets, collard greens, carrots, turnips, and other high-nitrate vegetables for babies under 6 months of age. These could cause a serious blood condition called methemoglobinemia.

Your healthcare provider can offer other tips about infant feeding. Enjoy this stage. It’s one more sign of your baby’s growing independence.

author name

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. Dr. Ammons is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed her residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Her special areas of interest include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations.

Call: 717-569-6481

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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