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By Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Manager, Nutrition Services
Joslin Diabetes Center
Boston, MA

Created: 09/21/2009
Last Updated: 03/12/2015

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Q: I'm a new mom, and I've been breastfeeding for three months. When is a good time to make the transition from breast milk to food? What are the best foods to start with?

For the first four months of life, breast milk will supply all of an infant's needs. After this time an infant's requirement for iron exceeds the amount that is provided by breast milk. This is the time to introduce iron-fortified baby cereal.

The first step is to determine if your infant is ready for solid foods. If your infant is able to keep her head upright when sitting and is able to swallow when food is placed on the tongue, then she is ready for solid food. Try baby rice cereal first, since it is the least allergenic. Two to four tablespoons twice a day is recommended, with a small amount of breast milk added. Don't be discouraged if your baby refuses the food—babies often require a number of attempts before a food is accepted. Remember, your baby has only been drinking milk for her whole life and has to get used to the texture of food.

The type and amount of baby cereal can be increased once the rice cereal is tolerated. At about six months, strained fruits and vegetables can be added. To make sure your child tolerates the food, offer only one new fruit or vegetable at a time over a period of a few days. This way if a reaction occurs, you will know which food is the culprit. Additional food groups are added at 8, 10 and 12 months. You should discuss any concerns you have about feeding your child with your pediatrician. In addition, a basic infant feeding guide is available online from the WIC Web site at: www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Sharing_Center/gallery/wic_fam10.htm or in a handy pamphlet from the International Food Information Council ific.org/publications/brochures/solidsbroch.cfm