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When To Start Baby on Solid Food

 

In the first year of your baby's life, s/he will go from eating nothing but formula or breastmilk to being able to dig into cake on that magical first birthday. Going from that all-liquid diet to eating solid food (and eventually even feeding themselves!) is a big, gradual change your baby undertakes as s/he is able to digest solids, then use their pincher grasp to self-feed with their fingers, and later utilize tiny new teeth to chew. But we're getting ahead of ourselves! First things first: you're probably wondering when to introduce solids to your baby. Your responses to these questions can help you to decide. Always check with your doctor before starting your baby on solid foods.  

  • How old is my baby? If your baby is between four and six months old, s/he might be ready to start solids. Most doctors recommend waiting as close to six months as possible, but anytime within that window is safe.
  • Does my baby seem satisfied? If your little one is content with the breastmilk or formula you have been giving them, hold off on the solids. If after a feeding your baby seems restless and as if s/he is “wanting more,” it’s probably time to start offering at least one solid meal a day.  
  • Can my baby sit up with little to no assistance? If your little one can sit up unsupported in a high chair, s/he scores a point in the “I’m ready for solids” category.  
  • Is your baby able to maintain head control? Head control is an important sign that your little one will be able to handle swallowing baby food's thicker textures.  
  • Is my baby interested in what I’m eating? If your baby seems to perk up and pay attention when you sit down with a plate of food, s/he might be ready to try a few bites of something new!

How to start your baby on solid food

Now that you know your baby is ready for solids, how do you start? As with most things, it’s best to keep it simple at first. Start with adding one meal a day into their routine. Many parents start with a meal just before bed time, in hopes that the solids will help them to sleep longer. You can begin with a single grain cereal (such as rice cereal). Next, it’s recommended that you try vegetables and save the fruits for later. If your little one gets his/her first taste of the sweet fruits before the veggies, it may be hard to get them to want to eat the vegetables.

You want to watch out for allergic reactions. Offering one new food at a time and waiting a few days before starting another food helps you know what, if any, foods your baby can't tolerate, because you'll be able to quickly pinpoint what food caused the reaction. If your baby shows any signs of an allergic reaction to a solid food, call your doctor immediately.

After you and your baby have gotten the hang of one meal a day, you can expand to more as needed. Around nine months, you can add finger foods such as Cheerios so they can begin learning to feed themselves.  

a selection of homemade baby food puree and their ingredients

Store or homemade baby food?

Go shopping for baby food and you'll soon discover the many options available, from organic and conventional foods, packaged in pouches, jars, plastic containers, and more. You might be exploring how to make homemade baby food. There is no right or wrong answer for what type, brand, or packaging is best for your baby. Purchase a small amount of what you would like to try and go for it! You can always switch it up later. If you want to try homemade, you can make everything you need with a regular blender (no fancy baby food maker required) and an assortment of vegetables and fruits. Puree them in the blender (steam the veggies a little first), and pour into ice cube trays to place in the freezer. Anytime baby needs to eat, you can pop out a cube and defrost or heat it up as needed.  

We wish you the best of luck as you start the solids journey with your little one!

 
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