Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

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Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

The 4 to 6-month mark is such an exciting time because you can start teaching your baby about solid food!  But it can also be nerve-racking as you worry about choking and wonder if your baby will have any food allergies.  Keep reading for information to help you introduce solid food to your baby with confidence and make eating fun.

When to Start Solids

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six month and that solids can be started at the 6-month mark.  However, there are many babies that aren’t exclusively breastfed during this time.  Babies receiving formula may still want to wait until the 6-month mark.

For my son, we ended up starting solids right at 4 months.  At that point, we couldn’t keep him full with only formula and he was showing the signs that he was ready to start solids.  This worked well for us; however, each baby is different.  Check with your doctor to see when it’s recommended to start solids.

Signs Baby is Ready to Try Solids

  • Tongue reflex is no longer pushing food right back out
  • Baby can sit up with minimal support
  • Baby is interested in mealtime (i.e. trying to grab your food)

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Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning is where you wait to start solids right at 6-months by offering soft finger foods. This means that you don’t need to buy special baby food because your baby can eat many of the same things you are eating.


First Foods

It used to be recommended to start with rice cereal followed by oatmeal.  These foods have a low potential of allergies, and they are relatively bland.  They can also be mixed with breast milk or formula.  Start with a lot of liquid and slowly increase the thickness as baby gets used to it.  This post has a lot of great tips for selecting baby cereal.

Warning: Never put cereal into your baby’s bottle because of the choking risk.  Even when very liquid, use a spoon. 

If you aren’t feeling the baby cereal, it’s now known that other foods can be appropriate.  Avocados, bananas and sweet potatoes all make good options for first foods.  Just follow the same principle and mix with breast milk or formula and slowly increase consistency as tolerated. 

Introducing Common Allergens

It used to be believed that you need to wait until your baby was at least a year old to introduce things like peanuts, eggs, and wheat.  However, if you don’t have any family history of food allergies, then it’s thought to be better to introduce these foods early.  Just keep in mind appropriate consistency.  Peanut butter can be too thick for baby for example.

baby in high chair with food on his face

Consistency

At first foods should be pureed to a drinkable consistency.  As baby gets used to it, you can slowly start thickening the food.  Some babies object to thicker textures, so take this progression slowly.  Once baby can start picking up food between the thumb and forefinger, you can start introducing bite-sized pieces of cooked veggies, pasta, etc.  A good principle is that pieces should be small and cooked enough that they can be easily squished between your fingers.  This means making veggies and pasta well-done. 


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Introducing New Food

It’s recommended that at first, you introduce one food no more often than every 3 days.  This gives you time to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.  During this time, you want to feed the new food, but you can also offer foods that you have previously introduced. 

If your baby doesn’t like something, keep trying it.  It sometimes takes 10 or more times for a baby to decide he likes something.  The various flavors take some getting used to when all you’ve ever had is milk. Some foods that I found work well include zucchini, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, plums, avocado, and cauliflower.

Baby in high chair eating broccoli

Foods NOT to Try During the First Year

Nuts, popcorn, raw veggies, whole grapes, and hotdogs aren’t recommended because of choking risk.  Grapes can be cut up and other berries like blueberries can be squished to reduce this risk.

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    Amount of Food

    When you are used to looking at adult serving sizes, it can be hard to gauge what an appropriate amount of food for a baby is.  At first, even the small containers of baby food will be too much for one sitting. 

    When feeding your baby, pay close attention to signs that your baby is full.  These signs include, covering the mouth, pushing food away, turning away, getting distracted, and spitting food out.  Signs that baby is still hungry include pulling the spoon to his mouth, focusing on you and the food, getting excited when you provide more food.  When you are feeding your baby, you don’t want to force food in after he’s full.  Once baby is able to feed himself, then it becomes easier to tell when he’s done. 

    Remember that most of your baby’s calories will still come from breast milk or formula for the first few months of solids. 

    For a helpful guide to daily servings, grab my baby meal planner here.


    Other Tips

    Baby Food Storage

    Once you have fed baby directly from a container, you should discard any remaining food.  Therefore, it’s wise to transfer food from its container into a bowl a little at a time.  If you do that, unused baby food can be stored in the fridge for about 24 hours. 

    Baby laughing in high chair with food on his face.

    Utensils

    Baby will not be able to pick up food until he develops the pincher grasp around 8 months.  Until this point, you will need to feed your baby.  Once he starts developing the pincher grasp, cheerios make a good option for practice. 

    Adult spoons will be too big, so make sure to have some silicon or plastic baby spoons on hand.  I find that these spoons work well at first because they are tiny on the end, but they have long handles which allows your baby to help guide the spoon.  However, once your baby starts to want to feed himself with the spoon, these larger ones work a little better.

    Another option is to use a fresh food feeder like this. It allows the baby to chew on foods without the risk of choking. I didn’t find a lot of success with these, but for tips from a mom that did have success, check out this post.

    Keep Meal Time Fun

    For the first few months, your baby will continue to get most nutrition from breast milk or formula.  You are offering solid foods to introduce the concept of foods and the art of eating.  Therefore, don’t worry about how much baby eats.  Likely only a tiny bit will be eaten at first, but this will increase over time.  Keep offering a variety of foods.


    Final Thoughts

    Don’t stress too much about starting solid foods.  Take your baby’s cues and ask your doctor if you have concerns.

    For tips on making homemade baby food and ideas of things that make good first foods, check out this post.

    Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

    Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    50 thoughts on “Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

    • February 11, 2019 at 6:15 pm
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      Lauren, I love this post! I wish I had been more aware of introducing allergens with my older children. This would have been so helpful for me!!
      Trish ~ Habibi House

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      • February 11, 2019 at 11:08 pm
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        Thank you. Introducing foods can be so confusing if you let it. I wanted to simplify it as much as possible.

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    • February 12, 2019 at 8:30 pm
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      My first born had colic and it was brutal. We were happy when she finally went to solid food. Felt so bad for her plus the formula we had to use was insanely priced. We use her baby spoon for grated cheese to this day for the novelty of it. 🙂

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:22 pm
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        Formula is very pricy, especially if you need a special variety! I was so glad when we hit the 12 month mark and could stop by formula totally.

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    • February 12, 2019 at 9:57 pm
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      I remember the fun times when my nieces and nephews started on solids. Lovely, fun and messy times. A messy face normally suggested they had enjoyed the new introduction.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:22 pm
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        If a messy face means it was enjoyed, then my son has always been a big fan of food!

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    • February 13, 2019 at 3:43 am
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      Really good tips here! If I ever make a tiny human, I’ll definitely check back. The photos are so cure though haha.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:21 pm
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        Thanks I think my model is pretty cute 🙂

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    • February 13, 2019 at 12:25 pm
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      (writing notes quickly) I’m taking all this information down for when I have kids. Granted, my wife has been in childcare dealing with babies for like 20 years, so I feel like I have a Cheat Code, but I wanna learn this stuff too. I don’t know very much about taking care of babies at all, and I just assumed that every food would choke baby, so they just eat soft stuff until they’re like 2, which clearly isn’t the case. Do they go on solids before teething? How do you deal with that?

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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        Taking care of babies as a first time parent is basically flying by the seat of your pants. As a new parent I had to use my best guess and/or google search everything! Hopefully with my blog posts I help other new parents find that info that I searched for.

        Reply
    • February 13, 2019 at 12:51 pm
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      I loved this post because it brought me back to the years when my kids were so tiny and sweet! (They are still sweet but, alas, not so tiny anymore.)

      We loved introducing solids to the kids as we had so much fun finding out which foods they enjoyed and seeing their expressions with new tastes.

      Great post!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:08 pm
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        I loved the new foods stage because of how much fun it was. My son is growing so fast that I am alraedy starting to miss the tiny stage, but he’s only going to get bigger if I keep feeding him (or so I’ve been told)

        Reply
    • February 13, 2019 at 1:36 pm
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      Some great tips.Passing it on to my niece who has just been blessed with a sweet daughter a month back.

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:07 pm
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        Oh congrats to your niece! The time really does fly, and she will be starting solids in a blink of an eye.

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    • February 13, 2019 at 1:50 pm
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      Thanks for these tips. unfortunately I’m passed that stage, and I hope by the time I become a grandpa, there won’t be an app for feeding kids…Lol

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:07 pm
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        I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with an app for feeding kids. There’s an app for just about everything these days.

        Reply
    • February 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm
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      Great tips that I can imagine will be super helpful for parents who are starting to introduce foods to their baby. PS love the photos. Is there anything cuter than a baby covered in food?

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:06 pm
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        I have a ton of photos of my baby covered in food because it was way more fun to take pictures than clean him up.

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    • February 13, 2019 at 6:34 pm
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      Great information! We’re planning to hopefully start a family this year, so this will be useful!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:06 pm
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        Good luck! Being a mom is absolutely wonderful!

        Reply
    • February 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm
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      My niece’s first food was cerelac. These are super useful tips for parents that would help them in starting solid food for their kids!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:05 pm
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        I had to google what Cerelac was because I had never heard of it before.

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    • February 13, 2019 at 10:28 pm
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      It’s definitely an interesting process to switch your first baby to solids!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:04 pm
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        It’s always so fun to see their reactions to the new foods!

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    • February 13, 2019 at 10:40 pm
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      Excellent information! Thanks for laying out the plan to solid foods. You’re right about following your baby’s cue, so true.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:04 pm
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        It’s a fun but scary milestone for parents, but hopefully this will help new moms navigate the waters a little more confidently.

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    • February 13, 2019 at 11:13 pm
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      We have four grandchildren ages three and under who visit often and spend days with us. This was a good reminder of what to feed them and when.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:03 pm
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        when you aren’t used to feeding little kids it can be hard to remember what they eat.

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    • February 13, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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      This is a great post. I was so nervous to start solids with my baby girl. especially when her Dr. told me to introduce peanut butter right at 6 months (she had been eating cereal for about a month and a half). I hope this post helps a lot of new parents out there!

      Thanks for the read,
      Brooke | Mother Me Crazy

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:03 pm
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        Thanks! Peanut butter scares me a little because it’s thick and chunky. I’m more concerned about it from the choking standpoint compared to the allergy side. I ended up using the PB2 powder to mix into cereal.

        Reply
    • February 14, 2019 at 1:54 am
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      I don’t have kids, and I still love reading your posts! I learn so much every time. I had no idea about paying attention to how they are swallowing formula as an indicator if they are ready for solid foods.

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 8:01 pm
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        I’ve added that to the list of things I’ve learned since becoming a mom. There is so much that I had no idea about until I was in the thick of things.

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    • February 14, 2019 at 3:12 am
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      I just started solids too! Both of my sons started close to 5 months…I was torn about it at first, but they both started showing…the signs…so I went for it! What a great post for new moms.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 8:00 pm
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        I’m glad we started solids at 4 months because it’s what was right for my son, but it’s definitely something parents just need to go with their instincts and decide what is best for them.

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    • February 14, 2019 at 3:46 am
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      Wow it’s been so long, I’ve almosy forgot all the trails and turbulantion we went through doing this frame. Man I should miss it. Thank you for the flash back!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 7:59 pm
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        It’s easy to forget once you don’t have to carefully consider what they are eating for each meal.

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    • February 14, 2019 at 5:02 am
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      Introducing your baby the first solid food is a very big and important milestone. I still remember the first time my first had her first scoop of solid food! A great post and very useful for all new mothers.

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      • February 15, 2019 at 7:58 pm
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        It was definitely a milestone I was very excited for. It’s so much fun seeing the reaction to new foods.

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    • February 14, 2019 at 5:42 pm
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      It’s always scary introducing new foods to your little ones. But the crazy faces they make when they try new foods may be the best thing in the world.

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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        The crazy faces with new foods are awesome!

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    • February 15, 2019 at 11:26 am
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      Great tips! Starting on solids is fun (and a bit daunting) at times. I love the guidance on how much food to give, as well as baby utensils. These are things that are often overlooked!

      Reply
      • February 15, 2019 at 7:56 pm
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        We often don’t think of questions like how much food to give until we are in the thick of it and don’t know the answer. I wanted to try and answer all the questions that came up as I was starting my son on solids.

        Reply
    • February 16, 2019 at 10:20 pm
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      these are some wonderful tips that i must share with my mom-to-be and new mom friends! thank you for sharing.

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      • February 25, 2019 at 7:52 pm
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        I’m sure your new mom friends will appreciate every little hack they can get to make momming just a little easier!

        Reply
    • February 17, 2019 at 10:23 am
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      These are all great tips for starting solid food with your baby. It took a lot of trial and error when starting solid food with my daughter and there is so much information out there. My daughter actually preferred a more textured food so I would mix cooked quinoa into a vegetable or fruit puree and she was more likely to eat it. We did a mix of BLW and purees. There are definitely some things I did/didn’t do with my daughter when it came to trying solid foods so I feel better prepared the second time around, when that time comes. I am not rushing it though!

      Reply
      • February 25, 2019 at 8:03 pm
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        Mixing in quinoa is a great idea that I hadn’t thought of!

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    • February 18, 2019 at 3:18 am
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      Great post Lauren!! We have had so much fun introducing new foods! We’re following a baby led weaning approach, but are flexible here and there. It’s been going great!

      Reply
      • February 25, 2019 at 8:04 pm
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        Baby led weaning seems like it would be less work than starting with purees; however, Paxton and I weren’t patient enough to wait for that point LOL.

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    • February 22, 2019 at 7:43 pm
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      Thankfully, switching to solids wasn’t as challenging as I once thought it was. I was so fearful of them choking on everything because my kids got their teeth a little later. We did baby led weaning and just worked out way through the feeding process with them.

      Reply
      • February 25, 2019 at 7:33 pm
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        I spent so much time the first couple of months stressing over exactly what foods and how much to feed my son and then eventually realized it didn’t have to be that hard.

        Reply

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