Common Questions When Starting Purees with Baby

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Find out the answers to your questions for starting your baby on solid foods. What age? What do you feed baby? How much will baby eat? When will baby get good at the spoon? When do you move from purees to “real” food?

Mom feeding baby solid foods

What Age Should You Start Feeding Solid Foods to Your Baby

What Age Should You Start Feeding Solid Foods to Your Baby? How to tell when your baby is ready for solid foods? What are some reasons to wait to introduce solid foods?

Like many things when it comes to parenting, the age of when to start solids can, not surprisingly, become a hot topic where feathers get ruffled and people get defensive right away. Ultimately, the exact age is up to you, your baby, your baby’s doctor. That is who should have an opinion on it.

I personally started all of my children at four months.

Reasons to Start Solid Foods

Here are my reasons to start solids (and some reasoning I had for starting at 4 months):

  • If your baby is ready and eager. My first was beyond ready (in his mind) at four months. When your child is so eager, it makes it much easier to get them doing it. The older a baby gets, the harder it is to get them to do new things.
  • The thing I loved the most about starting solids at 4 months was that I could take things really slowly. At 6 months, your child NEEDS food other than milk. So there is a bit of a stress to get things going quickly. With my kids, I did rice cereal for a month before I moved on to start introducing veggies, then fruits. This way you can really be slow and watch carefully for any possible allergies or problems. You can also have the art of eating down by the time they are 6 months.
  • Reflux. Solids are said to help reflux, and they dramatically helped Kailtyn. But I know of one baby who it didn’t help, so it is no guarantee.

Reasons to Wait Starting Solid Foods

Now the reasons to wait to introduce solids:

  • Number one is a history of food allergies in your family.
  • It is just one more thing to do. Adding solids to a meal (even just a tablespoon of rice cereal) significantly lengthens mealtime until they get the hang of eating. So that can be inconvenient. Of course, this in inevitable. You will start solids some day.
  • You have to get the meals in when you are vacationing or out and about. It is no longer just a matter of finding somewhere to nurse or mixing up a bottle.
  • They need only milk until they are 6 months. I have read that you risk giving inadequate nutrition if you do solids and the baby doesn’t get the milk they need. BUT, I think if you follow the guidelines in BW 2 for starting solids, you really don’t run that risk.

Signs Baby is Ready to Start Solid Foods

If you want to start solids, look for these signs of readiness:

  • Physically are the “can sit supported” and “can swallow” food things you can read about anywhere that has info on if a baby is ready for solids.
  • Mentally–they want it. They watch you eat. It looks like they are coveting your food. They smack their lips when you eat. They open wide when you feed them…they are mentally in the game, so to speak.

In the future, here are my plans as far as solids go. Any child who is aching to start like Brayden was will start at 4 months. Any child with reflux will start at 4 months.

Otherwise, I think I will start at 5 months. I like to start in advance of the physical need for more than breast milk because I want to be able to take things slowly and not worry about introducing foods fast enough. I like to take changes slowly with my kids. The reason I would wait until 5 months is it just takes longer to feed them solids–so it is totally a convenience thing.

Do your research. Talk to your doctor. Analyze your baby. Trust your gut.

What Do You Feed Baby at Each Meal?

It can be hard to keep track of what your baby ate at the last meal. If you want a varied diet, you want some sort of system and routine to follow. Here is what I do:

  • Breakfast: Cereal and fruit
  • Lunch: Green veggie and fruit
  • Dinner: Yellow veggie, cereal, and fruit

I have heard that nutritionists recommend you try to eat all colors of the rainbow in your fruits and veggies. That is why I assigned a color of veggie to each meal. I try to get the other colors in with the fruits each day.

>>>Read: How To Make Sure You Are “Feeding the Rainbow”

How Much Food Will Baby Eat at Each Meal?

As far as how much baby food to expect your LO to consume…it is really dependent on the child.

By the time Brayden was 7 months old, he consumed a stage three Gerber jar of a fruit, a veggie, and at dinner sometimes I would do Blueberry Buckle for dessert if he was still hungry.

He also would have cereal at two meals a day–and sometimes that would be 12 Tablespoons! The kid was a monster eater, and a skinny little thing.

When I would go to the grocery store and buy baby food, the checkers would always comment on how much baby food I was buying. I don’t think he was typical.

At 8.5 months, Kaitlyn ate stage two of everything, had 4 T of cereal at breakfast and dinner, 1 veggie at lunch and 1 at dinner, 1/2 fruit at breakfast, 3/4-1 fruit at lunch, and about 1 fruit at dinner.

Feed your baby what your baby wants (within reason). Babies are much better than adults at stopping when they are full!

Common questions when starting baby on purees

When Will a Baby Master Eating From the Spoon?

This is in reference to using a spoon when you are first starting purees. Babywise says it takes three days to master using a spoon. 

Brayden had it mastered the moment it hit his tongue. He was obsessed with food and had studied us eating. 

Kaitlyn took longer. It took her until she had been eating three times a day for three days before she finally started to improve her spoon eating skills, so that was at least a week and a half of eating from a spoon total. That was just improvement, not mastering. She took some time there.

So once again, as far as a spoon goes, it really depends on the child. I found that how good Kaitlyn was with a spoon greatly depended on how hungry she was. Breakfast was not her cleanest time because I had a lot more milk in the morning so she wasn’t that hungry. At dinner she seemed to be starving and inhaled both the food without problem or mess. As in all things, it will come.

Who Should Feed Baby?

Chances are there is one person who typically feeds baby solids throughout the day.

t is a good idea to get dad (or someone other than mom) involved in taking care of the baby. I find this to be especially true when it comes to feeding solids.

If one person feeds baby every meal every day, baby becomes accustomed to that style of feeding and is often resistant when someone else does try.

We try to have dad feed the baby one meal each day. This is a great way to get some one-on-one time with daddy. The time will come when mom can’t be there to feed baby, so it is good for baby to be flexible.

This was quite easy for us when we had one child, but with two it is considerably more difficult. The older child is reluctant to have dad’s attention diverted. It is well worth the effort. It is good for the younger baby and the older child.

The older child always needs to know that younger baby deserves Daddy and Mommy time, too. They seem to grasp the Mommy thing because Mommy has no choice but to care for both, but it is harder for Daddy to get baby time in–especially when babies are not demanding attention and toddlers are.

When I had my last baby, my older kids would help feed her solids.

When Do You Stop Babyfood and Move to “Real” Food?

As far as when you stop pureed food, a lot of that is up to you and your baby. There are a lot of things you can’t feed a child until they are older for safety issues. Even after they turn one, you might want to be careful as far as choking goes.

The answer to this question would depend on when your child starts eating finger foods and how good they are at it. Some start at 6 months, some aren’t ready until 10 months or later. 

If you want to skip purees and go straight to eating more what the family eats, be sure to check out the Baby Led Weaning method. Read more at Tips to Be Successful With Baby-Led Weaning.

Brayden and Kaitlyn both started finger foods at 7 months, but I still fed Brayden baby food until after his 1 year checkup. Even after that he had babyfood on occasion. You have the control that way–you know they are getting enough fruits and veggies. Not to mention it is so much cleaner…I have already mentioned my OCD on that issue. I think Kaitlyn is working to cure me of it because she can be a messy little eater….

>>>Read: Finger Foods Basics

Anyway, I would say most start to move to just whatever the family is eating around a year. Brayden eats whatever we eat. Enchiladas, veggies, spicy, bland, it doesn’t matter. He likes it all.

I think Kaitlyn is far more interested in eating whatever we are eating than her mushy baby food. She loves to eat finger foods but drags her feed with the baby food. Move when your baby is ready for it. And you can do it gradually over time.

For more information on what to feed your pre-toddler, see the Feeding Your Pre-Toddler post.

Conclusion

These questions will help you take the step get get started with solids. It can feel a little nerve-wracking at first, but you will soon find it wasn’t anything you needed to stress out over.

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Reader Questions

  • dollyjustice said…
    I love your blog and have been reading it religiously! Thank you for starting this. I have often said that there needs to be a “Guide to Babywise for Dummies!” Question – when did you introduce meats(babyfood)? And when you did, did you offer them at dinner only?February 16, 2008 4:49 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    I am glad you like the blog!I actually didn’t start meats until after Brayden was a year old, and even then he didn’t have it often. There was no reason for not having it often other than he really didn’t like it. I remember his 2 year appointment. His doctor was asking about the foods he ate, and Brayden really didn’t eat meat at all. The doctor was quite surprised. Since then, he has grown to like meat more, though it is still his least-often food group eaten. When he does eat meat, it is at dinner. We don’t really eat meat at breakfast or lunch.Up until about 2.5 YO, he usually would only eat meat that was cooked to a very tender point–like from a slow cooker. So, to make a long story short, I haven’t really been good about meat! :)February 16, 2008 8:19 PM
    dollyjustice said…
    Thank you so much. I have just began introducing meats this week. My dd is 9 months old. So far, she has loved meat. She must get it from Daddy! I am really enjoying your blog. So far, we seem to be in line with each other on everything. Babywise rocks and you do too!!!THANK YOU! Its nice to have someone out there to bounce baby ideas off of for my sanity’s sake!
    February 17, 2008 6:51 PM
  • SCHarveys said…
    Question about introducing veggies…Do you still do cereal 3x a day? e.g., at lunch, do I do cereal, then veggie, or just veggie. Today was our first day of veg; I did cereal at breakfast, veggie at lunch, and will do cereal for dinner I guess. Is this right? If so, when do you add the veggie to dinner? After starting the fruit, or should I be doing that already tonight? The books are unclear on this, at least to me…but I’m no genius at this stuff! Thanks so much for your help!
    March 18, 2008 11:09 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    That is a good question. First, you can really do what you think is best for your LO. But here is what I did.When there is still just one color of veggie, I still keep 3 cereal feedings in the day. I then add veggie to lunch and dinner. Once two colors (or you could do just two types) of veggies are added, I do two veggies at lunch with no cereal, but still have cereal at breakfast and dinner. Once fruit is introduced, I do cereal and fruit and breakfast, then fruit and veggie for lunch, then cereal, fruit, and veggie for dinner. Some people maintain cereal 3 times a day. Have fun with your introductions! I love to watch babies try new foods.
    March 18, 2008 11:17 AM
  • Mom2Cohen said…
    So the pediatrician just told us no more cereal for Cohen because he doesn’t poop on his own while he is eating it. So, now I am confused about what to feed him since I am only just now starting veggies. Any thoughts?
    March 18, 2008 11:21 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    In that case, I would do veggies three times a day until you get to fruits. You will likely just need to add more fruits and veggies than kids who eat all three things.
    March 18, 2008 1:40 PM
  • Mom2Cohen said…
    I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on how much I have been feeding my little guy. I started him on cereal last Monday (2/18) and have been giving him about 3T of rice or oatmeal cereal everyday at 4:30 (after BFing). I am planning to start feeding him twice a day this coming Monday (3/3) but I am unsure about how much he is actually supposed to get at each feeding. I saw on one website that he should only have 3-9 T a day but that didn’t seem right! Anyhow, I hope that all makes sense. Basically I am just wondering how much I can feed him at each feeding because trust me when I say that he will eat pretty much ANYTHING I put in his mouth…he always acts like he wants more. Also, just FYI I plan on doing two feedings of cereal a day for two weeks and then I will do three feedings a day of cereal for a week and then I will start adding veggies (at least this is “My” plan…we will see how things go)I look forward to hearing what you think as far as the amount I can feed him!
    February 28, 2008 8:10 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    BW II says to work up to 6 T per meal if they want it. I would start slowly with your second meal and continue to offer more at the other meal until you reach 6 T. If your son is hard to read for solids, you might like the book Super Baby Food. I haven’t ever read it, but heard great things about it. It covers birth to three years.
    February 28, 2008 9:48 PM
  • Mom2Cohen said…
    Okay…now for a really stupid question…when people say 4T, 5T, etc are they meaning just 4T of cereal plus the formula or 4T when the cereal and formula are mixed?
    February 29, 2008 12:09 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Not to sound like a teacher, but there is no such thing as a stupid question :). To not ask a question and/or just assume something to be true is far “stupider” than asking and making sure you get it. When I say 5T, I mean 5T dry. Then you add the liquid. Please let me know if that doesn’t make sense (by the way, I think that is a really good question.
    February 29, 2008 2:05 PM
  • Jonathan and Meredith Harvey said…
    Hi, this is my first comment, but I love your blog. I use it almost every day and have recommended it to several other mom friends. My 6 1/2 month old is eating 5x a day, cereal at 3 feedings. He only eats 2-3 tablespoons and I am wondering if this is ok. The most he has ever eaten is probably four. We have not started veggies or anything yet, just cereal so far and some juice to help with BMs. Is it ok that he only eats that much? Thanks
    March 11, 2008 10:50 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    That sounds fine to me. My daughter has never consistently eaten more than 4 T of cereal at once, and she is 11 months old. It is always a good idea to follow your child’s lead on the amount of food.But there is a book called Super Baby Food. I haven’t read it, but I have heard many many good things about it. It covers birth to 3 years old. It could be a great resource.
    March 11, 2008 11:14 AM
  • Gabby said…
    My 6 month old has been eating solids for about 3 weeks. We did 2 weeks of cereal and started veggies this last week. He was eating well (about 3-4T of cereal each time), until the last couple of days. All of a sudden he just holds it on his tongue and will not swallow. I tried feeding solids before and after BF rather than in the middle, but it did not seem to help. I’m concerned that he needs the nutrition at his age. Last night he drank 2 oz of formula after nursing and refusing the solids because he still seemed hungry. Any suggestions??? Thanks!-Gabby
    April 5, 2008 6:52 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    Gabby, I was just going through posts organizing comments and saw your comment here. I never was notified of it (sometimes that happens for some reason). If you still have problems, let me know. Hopefully things are better a month later. If not, see this post: How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat
    May 8, 2008 2:20 PM
  • Jessica said…
    I need help! I am having feeding/eating issues with my 5 month old little girl. I am having trouble getting both formula and solids in her at the same feeding. I think she is also starting to prefer solids over her formula and is refusing to drink it. When I try to feed her at 10 a.m. she may take 2 oz. of formula but no where near a full feeding. I feel like I need to split up her milk and solid feedings so that she will eat well.She has started waking early in the a.m. and I am not sure if it is food related or what. The waking isn’t that big of an issue since I needed to play with her schedule anyway but it is still frustrating.
    September 6, 2008 12:48 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Jessica, how often do you feed solids? Also, is she teething? Often they will not eat well while teething–especially nursing/bottles.
    September 10, 2008 2:52 PM

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12 thoughts on “Common Questions When Starting Purees with Baby”

  1. Hi- love your website- check it often for my now 6 month old. I just read your post on when they will eat what and love your rainbow color idea. Wanted to know- at what age were they up to this much food during the day? She is eating- 2 cereal feedings, 1 fruit and 1 veggie at this point. I think she is ready for more though. Should I build to this or just start doing it, etc. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. I would just offer as much variety as possible. You can also mix foods. If you do a green veggie and orange veggie each day, then you know you have those two colors done. That leaves you with Red, yellow, blue, purple to try to get in with your fruits. So for breakfast you could do strawberry-bananna and cover red and yellow. Lunch, bannana-grape and cover purple. Then blueberry for dinner. You are then covered! But also remember that nutritionists also say you can think of it on a weekly basis. So you can have a really red day, then a really yellow day, etc.

    Reply
  3. Okay, I just posted another question on the picky eaters blog. Reading this blog about what they eat at each meal has given me another question. In one comment you wrote that before you introduced fruits you gave your kids 2 veggies at lunch, for example – does that mean 2 jars of stage 1 – a total of 4ozs? I’m just wondering if I’m feeding my baby enough because I give her 3T rice cereal mixed with a little yellow veggie at breakfast (just to make it more palatable – after introducing veggies the rice cereal wasn’t quite as exciting), for lunch I nurse her and give her 1 jar (2ozs) of veggies, and do the same for dinner. Should I try to feed her more veggies or add some rice cereal to lunch and dinner until we start fruits? And when I introduce fruits does that mean she gets a jar (2ozs) of veggies and a jar (2ozs) of fruits at dinner??? Sorry to be so dense. I’m a first-timer! 🙂 Want to get SuperBabyFoods bk, but am short on $ this month and every month. 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Just noticed the “Solids:What is the Schedule?” blog – argh! I should have scrolled down to bottom before posting anything – sorry! I see that you did veggie, fruit, cereal for dinner – I understand the importance of that order, but since baby prefers something mixed in with cereal, can I mix the fruit/veggie w/ the cereal or do you recommend doing cereal plain? Thank you!!! I’m trying to get the hang of this infant thing and not getting it as easily as I’d like. Definitely having another baby so I can get it right! Ha ha ha!

    Reply
  5. CO Mom,You can definitely do whatever order your baby prefers. Some hate fruit so they need that first, otherwise they won’t eat it. The actual order is not important universally; you just want to find the right order for your baby. I think if the baby will eat other food with cereal, that is great. Before fruits, I did one yellow and one green veggie at lunch. As far as amounts, just feed what is right for her. My son at least 4 times as much as my daughter per meal, and in the end they were always weighing in about the same percentile. Most babies can be trusted to set their own pace.

    Reply
  6. Question for anyone…I have started yellow veggies two days ago along with her cereal at lunch. (she is 6 months). When do I start feeding her veggies 2 times a day? Also, can you do a post on when and what the different stages are in the foods? When do I transition to stage 2? I am also having a hard time getting LO to nurse both sides after solids. I have tried to nurse her one side and then solids and then the other. But she loses interest. So therefore, I have to pump which is a total pain! Any suggestions?

    Reply
  7. Jenny, I started veggies two times a day after I had done yellow veggies for a few days. I would then do one at lunch and one at dinner, both yellow. Once they were in to green veggies, green was at lunch, yellow was at dinner.As far as when to do different stages, that is really different for each child. I did it based on how much they ate. My daughter was never a big eater, so I never moved beyond stage 2 because she couldn’t finish a stage three in a meal. My son was at stage three before 6 months old. BUT that was just the fruit/veggie stage three, not the stage three with chuncks of food. You don’t want to do chunks of food until they are on finger foods and eating them well.I would nurse both sides before solids. Breastmilk is the most important part of her diet still at this age.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for the response…I have another issue that has come up with solids. When I started cereal at 5 months she did great with it. At 6 months she started yellow veggies and did okay for about 3 days. Now…she will not open her mouth for them. She puts those lips as tight as she can and shakes her head and cries without opening her mouth. She now will not eat the cereal. Currently she is on a four hour schedule. I thought that would help so we changed it the other day to four hours. That has not helped either. She is nursing great! She takes both sides. I have tried nursing after giving solids and tried one side before and the other after. I am at a loss…I just don’t understand the change. Since I have introduced all yellow, should I start green today? I have not done fruit yet. I have thought through the possibilities of teething, stomach hurts, and I can’t figure it out. She starts getting whiny when she goes to the highchair. As soon as she gets out…she is happy as a clam. Please provide some insight. By the way, your blog ROCKS! Thanks so much for the life saving support!

    Reply
  9. Jenny,The same thing happened to me with my 6 month old – turned out she had started teething. She stopped eating all solids for 2 1/2 weeks (prior to that she ate EVERYTHING with gusto!) – was a little stressful, but she was nursing just fine. When she first refused the solids, there was no sign of a tooth so I had no idea she had started teething. Once her two lowers broke through, she was fine. The same thing has started to happen again now that she is starting her uppers – no sign of teeth though – just drooling heavily. This time she has just cut down on the amount she is eating and one day she just won’t eat a certain veggie, but the next day she will. Just thought I’d chime in with one possible solution. Hang in there – she’ll get back on track – she’s getting what she needs from nursing.

    Reply
  10. Jenny,I might try green, but she might refuse it right now. Another option is to go straight back to just cereal. You could also try fruit if you want to.CO Mom has a good idea that it could be teething. It could also be that she decided whatever yellow veggie was last introduced is not good. I think I would continue to try to offer it, but not stress about it if she doesn’t want it. Or you could give her a few days off. Think through these different options and go with what you feel is best for her. Good luck!

    Reply
  11. My son is 9 months old this week. We are on a 4 hour schedule, and his current "menu" is:* 6am: 7oz formula, 3T ceral (+ 1 oz. formula), 1/2 tub stage-2 fruit* 10am: 8 oz formula, 1 tub stage-2 veggies, remaining fruit* 2pm: 8 oz formula, 1 container baby yogurt* 6pm: 8 oz formula, 1 jar mixed meat/veggie (though doesn't always finish it)He definitely loves his bottles and often lets out a little whimper when he's done because he'd really like to keep on drinking away. Is there a point, though, where I need to focus on making his bottles smaller? (I should mention that we already had to work to get down to 32 oz. per day — max allowed for formula — from the 40 oz. he was drinking when I was pumping/nursing!) I feel like he's actually getting a lot of solids now, but I guess I'm sort of stuck with this feeling of, okay — we made it to the 4 hour schedule, now what? What do we work toward next?Thanks as always.

    Reply
  12. Parkers, since I breastfeed, I don't think I am a good source when it comes to number of ounces until after 12 months. I would consult perhaps Super Baby Food and also your pediatrition.

    Reply

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