How to Introduce Solid Foods to Your Baby

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Recommendations for parents for solid foods and babies change frequently and often. Recommendations for solid foods have changed more in my years as a parent than any other topic. The age has changed several times. The list of safe foods has changed several times. The way to introduce has changed and evolved. It seems to be a moving target.

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With that in mind, my first recommendation when it comes to solid foods is to know what is recommended, but also strongly trust your own intuition. Visit with your baby’s doctor about it and together decide what is best for your individual baby.

When Baby Should Start Solid Foods

The current recommendation for starting solid foods is 4-6 months old. There is a range because more than age needs to be a consideration. Baby needs to be able to:

  • Sit up well. This does not have to be independent. It can be with support, but she needs good head control and be able to sit up without tipping over when seated in a high chair. 
  • No longer have a tongue-thrust reflex–this is when a baby pushes everything out of the mouth that enters it. It will be very messy and frustrating for you to try to feed a baby who has not lost this reflex.
  • Be interested in food. This is a huge one. Baby needs to want to eat. You can help decipher this desire by having baby around when meals are eaten. If your baby never sees you eat, you will never have any idea if baby is showing an interest in solid foods or not. An interested baby will watch you eagerly and reach toward food.

When To Do Solids in Your Routine

When I am initially introducing solids to a baby, I will nurse one side, feed the solid foods, then nurse the other side. I do not  feed all of the liquid at once while baby is learning to eat solids. I want baby hungry and eager to eat the solid foods. As the baby gets used to eating solids, you can do the full liquid and then the solids.

You want the solid foods to be a part of the liquid feeding. You do not want to nurse/bottlefeed, wait a while, then do solids, then do nap. That turns into feeding every two hours or snacking throughout waketime. If your baby could go three hours between feedings as a newborn, so can your six month old. Many can even go four hours between feedings at this age. 

Which Feedings To Offer Solids to Baby

There is no one universal right answer to this. When you initially start, you might just do one feeding a day. Just pick the feeding that is most convenient to you, but pick one that is close to when a meal time will ideally be (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). As baby adds more feedings, you will work up to three solid feedings a day. 

How To Start Solid Foods

There are many options for exactly how to start solid foods. Here are two methods I used. 

  • Slow and Methodical: The slow and methodical approach is to introduce solids slowly and by group. I started with the simple, basic rice cereal. I fed just 1/2 T of rice once a day. After a couple of days, I would move that to 1 T (so long as things were going well). I would slowly add more food every couple of days until we reached the amount the child wanted in one meal. I started with small amounts so if the food didn’t agree with the baby, baby didn’t have too much of it in the system.

    The second week, I added that same food to three meals a day.

    I slowly added on from there, going by certain colors of veegtables (yellow veggies first, then green). Then I slowly added fruits. This whole process took about two months to complete. For lots of details on the process, see my post Solids: How to Start? I used this process with my first two babies.

  • Slow but Random: With my next two babies, I still took things slowly, but I went more random on the order I introduced foods. I skipped rice by then. I liked to start with banana or avocado (one of my babies had a bad reaction to avocado though! So odd). I still went slow, but I didn’t worry about what color the food was or even if it was a fruit or vegetable. By this point, I was making my own babyfood, so part of what drove the decision on what to feed was what was in season. What could I get in bulk and make a lot of at a reasonable price.

    The trick with random introducing is you need to be sure you leave enough time in between new foods that you can track and trace if your baby has an allergic reaction. Otherwise, you have to cut everything and slowly reintroduce. You can read 

    Solids: Introducing “Randomly” for more.

  • Baby Led Weaning: Another popular way to introduce solids is to go with Baby Led Weaning instead of using pureed food. This is not something I have done, but a lot of Babywise mamas love it. You can read some information here and see if it is something you would like to do. 


More Solid Foods Posts:

valplowman

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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