- In This Feature
- Fact or Fiction
- Myth #1: Baby's First Food Must be Rice Cereal
- Myth #2: Babies are at High Risk for Food Allergies
- Myth #3: If a Baby Refuses Food He Doesn't Like It
- Myth #4: Babies Know Exactly What They Need to Eat
- Myth #5: Commercial Baby Food is Preferable to Table Food
- Myth #6: Parents Should Only Offer a Small Variety of Bland Foods
- Myth #7: If I Feed My Baby Well, It Doesn't Matter What I Eat
Myth #1: Baby's First Food Must be Rice Cereal
There is an almost universal agreement in the American medical community that rice cereal is an ideal first food. It’s great from a texture standpoint, as well as a nutritional one. When it’s time to introduce your baby to solid foods—at around six months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—rice cereal is a great place to start.
“Grain cereals have been traditional foods for infants for generations and are fortified with iron (and some with zinc), which makes them even more nutritious,” says Dr. Kleinman. “What has changed is our understanding that other foods, traditionally held back from infants, such as meats, are in fact appropriate for infants, as they can help promote optimal nutrition when introduced early in a child's feeding program."
So rice cereal is not the only good potential first food. Once a baby reaches six months, most any soft, hypoallergenic food is fine. For example, “although you don’t have to start with rice cereal absolutely, you shouldn’t replace that with peanut butter, either,” says Dr. Ari Brown, author of Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year, a spokesperson for the Academy of Pediatrics and a pediatrician in private practice in Texas.
“Is it OK to offer meat first? Yeah, sure,” answers Dr. Brown. “If you want to introduce a mashed sweet potato, applesauce, or another hypoallergenic food, that’s fine.” The key is to allow enough time after introducing a new food to check for allergic reactions.