IMG_20140429_155257The process of starting to feed baby food can be daunting because there’s a lot to think about. When my grandmother was a new mom, the recommendation was to start baby on meats at 1 month of age, vegetables at 2 months, and fruits at 3. Food rules constantly change as researchers and experts strive to learn more about infant nutrition, so it’s important to keep yourself informed. I wanted to collect all I know about baby starting solids to help you out!

When to Start:

We began with solids when my son was six months old. Two years ago we were in the same boat with my daughter, but started her at 5 months. Recently the recommendation for when to introduce baby’s first foods changed from 4-6 months to 6 months. This is for numerous reasons, the most commonly quoted is to reduce risk of food allergies. Another aspect to waiting is to be sure your baby’s stomach sphincter has closed so that processing food is not uncomfortable for them. By six months, baby also has a better idea of how to roll food to the back of the mouth having lost the tongue-thrust reflex. Pay attention to your baby around meal times. If (s)he expresses clear interest in what food you are eating, the time to start is near.

What to Feed

Baby’s diet should eventually be diverse and healthy, with all textures, colors, nutrients, and food groups included. But when you start solids, the first foods should be easy for baby to digest. Previously recommended rice cereal is now disregarded as a rule for baby’s first food. You can start with whatever you like, taking into consideration foods that are common allergens or unsafe. Try picking a vegetable or fruit off this chart!
food chart, eating, baby food, make your own, starting solids, what can my baby eat, chart of what baby can eat, feeding chart
This chart takes into account two things to know: common food allergens are introduced later (soy, wheat, etc) and foods high in nitrates should be introduced after 8 months (carrots, beets, spinach, etc). Foods high in nitrates can cause anemia in infants so if you are making your own baby food, follow this chart. If you are buying baby food, you don’t need to worry as it is nitrate free. I do a combination for my babies, but making your own is much more cost effective. I keep processed baby food around for convenience and on the go.
gerber baby food processed

The First Meal

happy baby bumboYou 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?

baby eating puree solid foodRemember 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!

IMG_20140429_152815   IMG_20140429_153600

Big sister wanted to help. She put bibs on each of them and was very careful spooning food into baby’s mouth.

Food Safety

  • 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.

 

information on starting baby on solidsI 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!
Remember to pin this and share!

Resources

Parents Magazine. Most everything I know about current parenting recommendations comes from this magazine.
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.


Starting solids! Baby’s first food
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4 thoughts on “Starting solids! Baby’s first food

  • February 26, 2017 at 11:43 AM
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    Awesome read, but I am still curious on one thing, my lo just turned 6 mths and I have been slowly introducing food to her for almost 2 mths now. I have read many articles and get mixed answers when I ask this same question, do I give her a bottle before or after food and should I be feeding her a full bottle as well.

    Reply
    • February 26, 2017 at 1:01 PM
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      Hey Vanessa! Thank you for the awesome question. I personally would give the bottle after the solid feeding. However, I think it depends on the child. If your baby is fussy eating solids, then give her the bottle afterward so she is more hungry when you offer her food. If she doesn’t seem interested in the bottle afterward at all, but is very interested to eat solids, then do the bottle beforehand. Remember, even though the end goal is to wean your baby from the bottle and transition completely to solids at some point, breastmilk or formula should still be the majority of their calorie intake until after 1 year old. The bottle is the more important part of your baby’s feeding.

      Usually, your baby won’t be hungry enough to drink a full bottle as well as eat solids during a feeding. Start with 1/2 to 3/4 of what they usually drink and go from there.

      Good luck to you!
      Melissa

      Reply

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