When to Start:
What to Feed
The First Meal
You should feed baby when he is well rested and hungry, but not ravenous. I picked the feeding after my baby’s afternoon nap to give it a go. He looks to be in the right mood, don’t you think? Take a small amount of food on a soft spoon and touch it to baby’s lips. If your baby cries, turns away, or does not want the food, try again in a week. Baby should be interested in the food, leaning forward and opening the mouth to explore the taste.
Continue spooning small bites for your baby until she gives signals of being full. Turning away, baulking at the food, fussing, spitting the food out, etc are all signs baby is done. She knows exactly how much is right; babies are equipped with a self-regulating full-o-meter.
I also incorporate baby sign language with feeding so when he is older, hopefully he will be able to sign and tell me when he is full. After his solids, we finish by breast feeding. It is not recommended to replace one of baby’s entire feedings with solids instead of milk. You should breast or bottle feed before or after baby eats solid food, whichever works better for successful meals.
How Often & How Much?
Remember that the primary source of your baby’s nutrition the first year is breast milk or formula. Your job is to introduce different tastes to expand his palette and lay the groundwork for lifetime healthy eating habits. The first week, try just one feeding a day. Aim for a tablespoon of food each time, it’s okay if it is less or more. The food should be very thin, I usually puree the food to a consistency of gravy, pourable and slightly more substantial than liquid. You should introduce foods one at a time, waiting three days before adding a new food to baby’s diet. This is so that you don’t overwhelm your baby and you can identify an allergy if symptoms occur (vomiting, diarrhea, rash, etc).
You can introduce a more varied diet as your baby grows. By the time baby is 12 months old, you can start introducing table foods cut into manageable pieces. Around the first birthday, a typical baby might eat 8-10 tablespoons of fruits and vegetables, 8 tablespoons of grains, and 2 tablespoons of meat or fish in a given day. Every baby is different, your child may eat more or less!
Big sister wanted to help. She put bibs on each of them and was very careful spooning food into baby’s mouth.
- Don’t save remaining food from the feeding bowl. Food contamination from baby’s saliva on the spoon can cause sickness. This is basically “double dipping.” Don’t re-feed food that has been fed before. Don’t let baby food sit out longer than an hour that should be refrigerated.
- Don’t freeze homemade baby food in glass jars. Freezing things in glass is unsafe as tiny shards can get into the food from the freezing/thawing process. You won’t be able to see this danger, so it is best not to freeze food in glass containers.
- Don’t microwave baby’s food. Heat and cook baby food on the stove. Nuking it alters the chemical makeup and destroys some of the nutrients.
- Don’t allow honey into your baby’s diet until after age 1. Honey can contain spores that may produce life-threatening infant botulism.
- Don’t feed anything to baby that might be a choking hazard like nuts, seeds, whole grapes and cherries, and raw vegetables. Always keep a close eye on a young child eating.
I hope this post was helpful informing you about starting solids with your baby! I just want to point out that I am not a medical professional, just a mom who likes to research and teach. If you have questions about feeding baby solids, you can ask me, but a pediatrician or physician would do well to help you.
Be sure to read more by checking out my baby’s schedule and methods to make your own baby food!
Thank you for reading. This post was requested by one of my readers and I want to give a shout out to Taylor for her wonderful feedback. I love to hear what other moms are interested in!
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Thomas Schrup, pediatrician at Centracare of MN. This is my children’s pediatrician who taught me about nitrates and food safety.
homemade-baby-food-recipes.com provided the basis for my food chart. However, I took into account other information from other sources, like Parents magazine, to make a more comprehensive and accurate chart (for instance, carrots should not be introduced until at least 7 months according to Parents).
Parenting Magazine, BabyTalk. An article from this magazine in March 2012 debunked food myths I referenced in this article, introducing rice cereal first for instance.