Is Your Baby Ready To Start Solid Foods
Breast milk or formula is the most important and consistent component of your baby’s diet in the first year. But, typically, around the time your little one turns 6 months old, he will be ready to start on solid foods alongside breast milk or formula.
Youâll want these first solid foods to be similar in texture to breast milk or formula. This gives your baby a chance to get used to them. That’s why infant cereals or single ingredient purees are good choices, as they are just slightly thicker than breast milk or formula.
To ease the transition from breast milk or formula to solid foods, start by giving your baby some breast milk or formula, then a small spoonful or two of an infant cereal or puree, and then go back to the breast milk or formula. In time, he’ll discover that this new solid food is just as pleasurable as the liquid diet he had been getting up until now, and you can gradually increase the amount of solid food you feed him.
After your baby is accustomed to infant cereals and pureed foods, you can begin offering foods with a chunkier texture. Eventually you can work your way up to table foods or finger foods, which youâve cut up into small pieces that he can easily pick up and eat.
If youâre unsure about when to start your baby on solid foods, the 4-month checkup is a great opportunity to consult his healthcare provider. The provider may suggest you watch out for the following signs that your baby may be ready to start on solid foods:
Beta Carotene For The Win
Organic yams are some of the easiest to cook up for a baby! Bake whole yams in the oven at 400°F for around an hour depending on the size. Dont forget to poke them with a fork a few times before baking Once the yams are fork tender, take them out of the oven and let them rest until theyre cool enough to handle. You could just use a fork to mash up the yam but I prefer to put it in a blender or food processor at this point because they can be a little stringy.
Carrots are another wonderful root vegetable that is easy to make into baby food. I like to buy whole organic carrots, peel and steam them until fork tender. Its not recommended to use the liquid from the cooking water, so when blending I usually add just a little bit of filtered water to help thin it out if its too thick. Butternut squash is another great option!
It Can Be A Teaching Tool
Once your baby adapts to the mushy texture of baby cereal, you can gradually make it thicker by adding less liquid . The familiar bland-tasting flavor guarantees eager eating, while the thicker textures help your baby learn how to chew and swallow. Thickened baby cereal also has potential health benefits: Babies with gastroesophageal reflux or dysphagia need their food to be thicker in order to swallow safely.
Whats more, the semi-solid texture of baby cereal serves as a stepping stone for other finger foods, such as softened fruits, vegetables, and meats. Your baby may have an easier time starting solids if she tries baby cereal first.
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Wonderful First Foods For Introducing Your Baby To Solids
Introducing foods to your baby after a fully liquid diet can be an exciting but a daunting task!
Current recommendations from the American Academy of Paediatrics and the World Health Organization suggest that babies are exclusively breastfed until the age of 6 months.
After about 6 months, babies begin to display the developmental signs that they are ready to eat some complimentary foods.
Signs can include:
- holding their head up unsupported
- putting textured toys in their mouths
- showing interest in food that youre eating.
Additionally, with increased mobility and brain/body development at the age of 6 months, breastmilk and formula no longer contain all of the nutrients that babies need, particularly iron.
To keep it simple and easy for you and your baby, babys first tastes of solid food should be a single ingredient. According to the AAP, its best to offer only one new fruit or vegetable at a time and wait two to three days before introducing a new food in order to observe if your baby has any sensitivities to that specific food.
After theyve gotten comfortable with single ingredient meals, you can work your way up to offering them a deconstructed version of whatever you are having for dinner. Having lasagna or steak for dinner? No problem! Just make a low sodium version for your baby and make sure to give them pieces that they cant choke on.
Tips For Introducing Solid Foods To Your Baby
Here are some tips for the best ways to introduce solid foods to your baby:
Offer solid foods when your baby is slightly hungry. Find a time of day when your baby is in a good mood and slightly hungry so that sheâll be more inclined to try solid foods. Eventually, as your baby gets older, sheâll want to join the rest of the family for mealtimes, which, in fact, is recommended as it can have a positive effect on her development.
Sit your baby upright. This is important for reducing the risk of choking. You can either support her in your lap or, if sheâs able to sit well , you can put her in a high chair with a safety strap.
Introduce one food at a time. Wait between three to five days before introducing new foods to your babyâs diet. This is to check that she doesnât have a food allergy to any of these never-before-eaten foods. If after feeding her a certain food you notice diarrhea, a rash, or vomiting, stop giving that food and consult your babyâs healthcare provider. If thereâs a history of food allergies in your family, consult your provider before trying out that particular food. Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans are among the most common food allergens. Once your baby has tried a variety of different foods separately, and there has been no adverse reaction, feel free to mix two different foods together.
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Can You Mix Baby Led Weaning And Purees
Absolutely! I think its a great idea to mix the two methods simply because it gives you many more options for foods and allows the baby to experience more textures. I recommend allowing babies to feed themselves preloaded spoonsso you put the puree on a spoon, then hand it to them to actually put the spoon into their mouthso they still have control over what goes into their mouths.
TIP: Feeding some purees is also helpful if youll be sending food with a baby to daycare since the care provider may not have experience with blw.
Best First Foods For Baby: Purees
Here are some of our favorite purees to start offering baby when theyre ready to start solids. Remember: Theres no evidence that says that you need to start with vegetables versus fruits, so go with something that tastes good to you. Start with single foods pureed smooth and offer just a little at a time on a spoon.
TIP: One of my favorite baby food companies is Amara Organic Baby Food, a company using a nutrient protection technology that makes organic purees just as good as homemade. I love how easy they are to use when I need a shortcut and that they have fun baby-led weaning recipes on the side of every box!
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How To Start Solid Foods
In the beginning your baby will only need a small amount of food before their usual milk feed.
Do not worry about how much they eat. The most important thing is getting them used to new tastes and textures, and learning how to move solid foods around their mouths and how to swallow them.
They’ll still be getting most of their energy and nutrients from breast milk or infant formula.
There are some foods to avoid giving to your baby. For example, do not add sugar or salt to your baby’s food or cooking water.
Babies should not eat salty foods as it’s not good for their kidneys, and sugar can cause tooth decay.
Tips to get your baby off to a good start with solid foods:
When Can My Baby Start Eating Solid Foods
A friend just started giving her 3-month-old applesauce and rice cereal. My son is just 2 weeks younger than hers, and I am wondering if I should be introducing solids soon too. When should I start? Taylor
The best time to introduce solid foods is when your baby has developed the skills needed to eat. Doctors recommend that breastfeeding moms wait until their baby is 6 months old.
But sometimes babies are ready for solids sooner than that. How will you know? To eat, babies need good head and neck control and should be able to sit up in a high chair. This usually doesn’t happen until they’re 4 to 6 months old.
Also, if you try to feed your son solids before this age, you may notice that he pushes food out of his mouth as quickly as you put it in. Babies start to lose this natural tongue-thrusting reflex at the 4- to 6-month mark, which makes it easier for them to start eating solid foods.
Other signs that babies are ready to eat solids foods:
- They’re interested in foods. For example, they may watch others eat, reach for food, and open their mouths when food approaches.
- They have the oral motor skills needed to move food to the throat and swallow it.
- They usually weigh twice their birth weight, or close to it.
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Eight To 12 Months: Start Introducing Finger Foods
- small amounts of soft pasteurised cheese such as cottage cheese
- unsweetened , natural yogurt
- mashed vegetables
- mashed fruits
Once your baby has mastered lumpy foods, you can break out the finger foods and let her practice her pincer grip. Scatter some food on her highchair tray and watch her go to town.
Finger food ideas include:
- cut up soft raw and cooked fruit
- small bits cooked meat or shredded poultry
- small bits of scrambled eggs
- pieces of cooked potato, pumpkin
- small bits of boneless fish
- well-cooked beans, like lentils, split peas, pintos, or black beans
- iron-fortified cereal
Feeding Between Three And Six Months
Milk provides your baby with all the nutrition they need to grow and develop in the first six months.
At around three months of age, your baby might start making more saliva and putting their fists or toys in their mouth, or experience a growth spurt and want to feed more often. These are part of normal development rather than signs that theyre ready for solid food.
Solid food shouldnt be introduced too early because babies arent physically or developmentally ready for it.
Some of the reasons are:
- your baby may feel full and not drink enough milk to grow well
- they cant coordinate their swallowing to cope with solid food
- their kidneys and digestion arent well-enough developed to cope with solid foods
- they may be more likely to get eczema, asthma, food allergies, respiratory infections.
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Babies’ Physical Changes At 4 To 6 Months
Babies organs and body grow and develop certain physical traits between 4 and 6 months. Certain changes occur to the:
- Digestive system the body develops enzymes to digest food.
- Immune system immune gut defence mechanism is fully developed.
- Mouth and tongue your baby can move food to the back of their mouth and swallow safely.
- Head and neck your baby can hold their head up head control helps them to sit up straight and swallow.
- Kidneys your babys kidneys can now handle the increased load produced by solids.
Watch Out For Food Allergies
While introducing the first foods for your baby, avoid giving her foods that have a high risk of causing an allergy. These include items like eggs, shellfish and peanuts, and can be given once the baby is a little older, such as eight months. To find out if your baby may be allergic, set up a baby first food schedule. Feed them early in the morning to see for any reaction later during the day.
Babies are creatures of habit and need to be weaned off breastmilk/formula in a phased manner. The initial few weeks may prove to be difficult as they might be resistant. However, with a little bit of patience and consistency, your baby will be munching on solid food in no time.
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Foods And Drinks To Avoid While Introducing Solids
There are some foods to avoid until your baby is a certain age:
- honey until 12 months this is to avoid the risk of infant botulism
- raw or runny eggs and foods containing raw eggs like home-made mayonnaise until 12 months bacteria in raw eggs can be harmful to babies
- reduced-fat dairy until two years
- whole nuts and similar hard foods until three years these are choking hazards.
There are some drinks to avoid until your baby is a certain age:
- pasteurised full-fat cows milk as a main drink until 12 months
- soy milk, goats milk and sheeps milk until two years
- rice, oat, almond or coconut milk until two years old, unless youve consulted with your GP or child and family health nurse
- unpasteurised milk of all types, tea, coffee or sugar-sweetened drinks at all ages
- fruit juice this should be limited at all ages .
Your baby doesnt need added salt or sugar. Processed or packaged foods with high levels of fat, sugar and/or salt arent good for babies and children. These foods include cakes, biscuits, chips and fried foods.
When Should My Baby Try Their First Foods
Your baby should only need breastmilk or formula milk for the first six months of their life. Experts say that introducing food too early has no advantages. It may even increase the risk of your baby getting an infection or illness .
“If you are breastfeeding, continuing past six months means your baby will receive more antibodies and other health benefits . Such benefits include having a lower risk of being obese or developing diabetes as a child.”
Waiting until your baby is six months before you introduce solids also means they will be more likely to be able to feed themselves . At this age your baby will also be able to manage foods in their mouth and swallow properly, which reduces the risk of choking . Babies dont produce all the enzymes needed to digest food thoroughly until they are about one year old .
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How To Introduce Solids To Baby
When introducing solid foods to your baby, youll start off gradually. Although youve anticipated the excitement of watching your child try new things, ideally you should start with one single-ingredient food. Not only will you more accurately gauge your babys likes and dislikes, but youll also notice any allergic reactions or food intolerances.
Once youve introduced one specific food, youll wait 3 to 5 days before introducing another one. When starting out with this slow process, your baby will most likely come to enjoy a variety of solids thatll make up a balanced meal.
Another important tip to remember when introducing solids for the first time, is to pay attention to quantity. Again, this helps your baby to avoid tummy issues such as gas or indigestion. This part of the process involves starting at 1 to 2 teaspoons of solids and slowly over time working up to 2 to 3 teaspoons depending on your babys age. Naturally, youll include breastmilk or formula with the meal.
Best First Foods For Baby Led Weaning
Here are some of our favorite first foods to offer baby led weaning style. You want foods to be finger sized so they are large enough that baby cant force the whole piece into their mouth, and a shape thats easy for a 6 month old to hold with their chubby little hands. These are some of our favorites.
- Toast sticks with mashed avocado
- Avocado spears
- Lamb or beef, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on
- Dark meat chicken, on the bone or a large piece for baby to suck on.
TIP: The foods should generally be soft enough to squish between your fingers with the exception of the large pieces of meat. If baby gnaws a piece down into a smaller piece, replace it with a larger one to avoid her putting a chunk of food into her mouth.
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Best First Foods For Baby
These 10 Best First Foods for Baby are perfect either as a baby food puree or as finger foods for baby-led weaning. Full of essential nutrients for a growing baby, these irresistibly delicious recipes are for Stage One or babies 4-6 months of age. Whats more, this guide also contains 6 tips for getting started and more than 30 easy-to-follow recipes!
Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
What Are The Best First Foods For A Baby
No matter what’s on the menu, if you’re introducing solids in the form of purees , the texture of your baby’s first foods should be super smooth and practically dripping off the spoon. If you prepare your own baby food, you should strain, puree or finely mash it, and then thin it with liquid if necessary.
As your baby becomes a more experienced eater , gradually reduce the liquid you add and thicken the texture.
Here are good first foods to start with for spoon-feeding:
Those early-bird specials get pretty old after a few dozen meals. Spice things up by adding:
- Minced meat
- Mashed eggs
At 8 months, you can start trying finger foods to add a whole other dimension to eating.
Ready to serve up a combo platter? That’s fine, as long as you keep the foods separate for a while. Your goal is to get your baby acquainted with the taste of particular foods, so if you mush the meats and veggies together, she may never know the joy of just plain peas. Once she likes the taste of a variety of different flavors, feel free to mix things up.
Always hold off on honey and cow’s milk until your baby is at least 1 year old. Most doctors will, however, green-light whole-milk yogurt, cottage cheese and hard cheese by 8 months or so, or even sooner.