Starting your baby on solids is an exciting milestone! While it can be exciting, it can also be stressful and challenging for some parents. Parents go from offering breastmilk or formula to starting to incorporate foods, which involves trying to determine which foods to start with, offering the main allergen foods first and making sure your baby is learning how to eat and digest. Wow, that’s a lot!! I’m sharing a complete guide to starting, how, and when to get your baby started on solids as smoothly as possible.
Guide To Starting Your Baby On Solids
How To Transition Baby To Solids
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding or formula as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastmilk and formula until at least 12 months.
When can I introduce solids to my baby?
Remember that each child’s readiness depends on his own rate of development. Some pediatricians and doctors recommend that you introduce foods to babies who have reflux or spit up to help keep foods down. Others recommend waiting until they are closer to 5-6 months of age and are showing an interest in food.
Can he hold his head up?
One key indicator if your baby is ready for solids is if they can hold their head up and have solid neck control. Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, a feeding seat, or an infant seat with good head control.
Does he open his mouth when food comes his way?
Babies may be ready to start eating solids if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem excited to be fed.
Can he move food from a spoon into his throat?
It’s normal if you offer a spoon of baby cereal or rice cereal, he pushes it out of his mouth, and it falls onto his chin, he may not have the ability to move it to the back of his mouth to swallow it. Try to remember that your baby has never digested anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, so it will take some time to get used to baby food. One tip, you can try diluting it the first few times; then, gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.
Is he big enough?
Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months of age) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
Introducing Solids to Baby
When you start the transitioning to solid foods, you want to start to introduce a variety of foods to your baby.
Make some introductions
Before offering a spoon or solids, put small pieces of food on your baby’s high chair, give them some time to explore the new textures. You may see them start to try and bring the food to their mouth which is great! There is a feeding methodology called baby led weaning which is essentially this. Baby led weaning is offering food to your baby without spoon feeding. You would cut food in easy to pick up pieces, making them more like finger foods, and place them on your baby’s high chair. This process allows your baby to learn how to eat and how much they want to eat. Check out Feeding Littles for their amazing resources including a baby led weaning course. They offer great resources including how to cut food or your baby to avoid choking hazards!
Remember, this is brand new for your baby! The concept of a spoon is new, so ease in! Start by gently placing about a quarter teaspoon of baby food on the tip of your baby’s tongue. Give them some time and if they swallow, you can continue to place the next quarter teaspoon a bit farther back on their tongue. At the beginning, you should expect almost all of the food to come out, this is normal! Over time, your baby will get the hang of spoon feeding and will start to open their mouth once they see the spoon. You can also help by feeding your baby with the spoon to help show them how to hold it and place it in their mouth.
Stock up on gear
Make sure you order some good baby gear before introducing solids. Abiie, Bella Tunno and AVA+Oliver are favorites of mine. This bib is amazing and will help collect some of the excess that misses your baby’s mouth. The pre spoon set is a great starter item, the food goes directly into the ridges of the spoon to help baby get food into their mouths. These are great for fine motor skills and to help baby practice holding utensils. Get yourself a few of these bowls, they suction to the high chair which you’ll want. You don’t want a free standing bowl that your baby could easily spike on the floor. Just wait, it’ll happen!
Lastly, one of my FAVORITE brands for feeding products is Austin Baby Co, their products are BPA free, dishwasher safe and leakproof. They make bibs, collapsible snack bowls, placemats, lunch boxes and so much more. Our Abiie Beyond high chair is amazing, it can be transformed to any height position to use as a toddler chair or as a traditional dining chair for all ages. It’s designed with the proper foot rest for good posture for infants and toddlers.
Best First Baby Foods
Below are my recommendations of food to start with for spoon-feeding. Go into solids knowing that your baby may (and will likely) reject some of the foods you offer. These are all new tastes, textures and feelings, it’s normal for them to react strongly at first. Continue to offer one food at a time, if your baby rejects one food try it again tomorrow and the next few days! Persistence and consistency is key.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits: Finely mashed bananas, baby applesauce, peaches and pears. Pureed or smashed avocados is another great choice and is loaded with healthy fat!
Vegetables: It’s best to start with milk veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots before moving on to the green team, like peas and string beans, which have slightly stronger flavors.
If you introduce baby cereal, pick a single-grain, iron-enriched, whole-grain, like brown rice, whole-grain oat or whole-grain barley. To prepare it, mix a small amount of baby cereal with formula, breast milk or a little water to create a creamy, soupy consistency. Tip: At first, don’t add in fruits to sweeten the taste. It’s best to introduce only one food at a time so that your baby can understand the taste!
Other food categories
Once your baby has mastered fruits, veggies and cereals, it’s time to introduce some more exciting food groups. Typically between months 6-8 you’ll be ready to introduce foods including:
- Mashed eggs
- Ground meat (chicken, lamb, turkey or beef)
As a reminder, do not offer any foods with honey (which can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that is harmless to adults but can cause infantile botulism, a serious illness, in babies) and cow’s milk until your baby is at least 1 year old. Most pediatricians will advise that offering whole-milk yogurt, cottage cheese or hard cheese by 8 months is ok. If your baby doesn’t have any reaction to the allergens, one of my favorite easy recipes for baby is to mash 1-2 ripe bananas, mix in an egg, add some oats, almond or coconut flour and flax seed. Give that good mix and mix up some pancakes! So easy, nutritious and a perfect meal for a baby eating solids!
How To Introduce Allergenic Foods To Baby
The AAP recommends introducing allergenic foods like peanut butter, eggs, seafood, nuts, etc, between 4-6 months old. They advise offering these foods by 11 months which could reduce your babies chances of developing food allergies. Before introducing the common allergenic foods, make sure that you’ve successfully introduced a few other foods like fruit, vegetables, cereals, etc.
What are the signs of a food allergy in babies to look out for?
Food allergies are common in babies and children. Allergic reactions to food can range from digestive issues like diarrhea, vomiting, to rashes, itching or a swollen mouth. Some of the symptoms could be wheezing, watery and itchy eyes or runny nose.
If you think your child is allergic to something, make sure you call your pediatrician right away for their consultation.
You may start to notice that as you introduce solids, your baby could start to become less interested in breastfeeding or drinking their bottle. The nutrients from breastmilk and formula are still the priority until age 1. Always offer breastmilk or formula before solids so that the solids are a bonus and not replacing their ounces!
Click here for all of my favorite, tried and true feeding products when you start the journey of solid foods!