The First Foods: The importance of iron
Studies say it’s important not to delay giving first foods to babies who around 6 months. This is the time when breast milk or formula might not meet your baby’s nutritional needs anymore. Providing enough iron at this stage is also very important [1,2]. Research also concludes not to delay in introducing common allergens since early exposure might actually reduce a risk of developing food allergies [9,10].
Food servings can gradually increase from just a few teaspoons to about two tablespoons, 1-2 times per day . Over time, start to increase the portion of food and offer a wider variety. Babies at this age tend be more easily open to different kinds of foods. Those who eat a variety of ingredients are more likely to develop healthier eating habits later on.
What to do
- Start Small: If your baby has only been drinking breast milk or formula, start by giving a soft and mild food first. Mix it with breast milk or formula. Over time, thicker and chunkier foods can be introduced.
- Go For Iron: The latest studies recommend to introduce an iron-rich food as the first food. Make sure your baby is getting enough iron for optimal growth [1,2,3].
- Track Allergies: Introduce a new food every 2-3 days to observe for any allergies. Once your child does well with one food, try something new, or pair the new food with one he/she already likes. Only serve one common allergen at a time [5,8].
- Practice Responsive Feeding: If parents follow their infant’s hunger and satiety cues the infant will be more likely to develop healthier eating skills. 
What not to do
- Don’t decrease breast milk or formula yet since it is still the primary source of nutrition for babies at this age .
- Understand the rules for salt, sugar, and fat for babies: avoid adding salt and sugar and do not give babies at this age any juice or sweetened beverages [2,3].
- Giving a baby milk at night might lead to teeth issues or unhealthy sleep habits. Offer warm water instead. 
- Do not add baby cereal to a bottle - it can become a choking hazard 
- Rice is a great weaning starter food, but only giving rice can be risky in the USA due to its exposure to arsenic . Instead alternate rice with other grains such as oats and barley.