Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

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

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.

Get Your FREE Baby Food Meal Planner

Get a printable meal planner specific to your baby’s age. Each meal planner includes age-specific servings, a place to brainstorm foods and a calendar to plan meals and check which food groups are included.

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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.


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    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.

    Homemade Baby Food 101

    Homemade Baby Food 101

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

    Homemade Baby Food 101

    Get Your FREE Baby Food Meal Planner

    Get a printable meal planner specific to your baby’s age. Each meal planner includes age-specific servings, a place to brainstorm foods and a calendar to plan meals and check which food groups are included.

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Overwhelmed at the thought of starting baby on solid foods?  Grab my free baby food meal planner HERE!


      Feeding baby.  The one thing that has stressed me out more than anything else since I became a mom.  But like all challenging things, I find a good way to overcome that is to change your mindset.  To that effect, I thrive in finding the healthiest, most affordable and most convenient way to feed my 9-month old son.   This ends up usually being homemade baby food.

      In this post I’m going to talk about how I make 90% of Paxton’s baby food.  However, if you aren’t to that stage yet, but breastfeeding exclusively isn’t working out (despite my best efforts I’ve used a lot of formula), check out my previous post on affording baby formula here

      How To Make Homemade Baby Food In 6 Steps

      Step 1: Outline Your Goals

      When you start your baby food making journey, you want to answer a few questions, so you accomplish what you want with the least amount of money, time and effort.  As a mom, I find that all three of those things are in short supply, so I try to conserve them as much as possible.

      • Are you planning to use exclusively homemade baby food, or intermix it with store-bought?
      • Are you passionate about baby only getting organic food?
      • How much freezer real estate do you have available?
      • Is baby eating finger foods yet or strictly purees?
      • What is baby’s consistency preference?
      • Any family history of allergies?

      Step 2: Decide How Often You Are Going to Make Homemade Baby Food

      You could make fresh baby food every day, but as a working mom, that’s really not practical for me to do.  I also know plenty of stay at home moms that don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch for baby every day.  If you do, more power to you, but if not, decide how often you are able to make baby food.  I plan to make some baby food every other weekend or so.  Therefore, I want to make sure there is enough quantity and variety to last a couple weeks.  Also consider if baby eats any adult food.  My son is to the point where he eats cheese, yogurt, bananas, etc. so I can sub those in instead of homemade food once in a while.

      Step 3: Make a Plan

      If there are certain things that baby really likes, make them in bulk.  This goes back to time-saving. However, for new things, make a small amount until you decide if baby likes it.  You should definitely retry things many times, but some of them are just too much of a battle no matter how much you try.  You don’t want a freezer full of something that puts you and baby in a bad mood every time you feed it. 

      I suggest making at least one new food each time, so that you have variety to introduce.  Once you have identified a few food baby enjoys, then make these often enough to keep a freezer stash.


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      Step 4: Assemble Your Toolkit and Ingredients

      When making baby food, you will need cookie sheets for baking, a steaming pot for steaming, containers to freeze food in, and a blender of some type.

      A bag of sweet potatoes and a bag of carrots
      A bag of sweet potatoes and a 5-pound bag of carrots are what I’m making into baby food today.

      I see no reason why someone needs to buy the blenders made specifically for baby food.  If you have a ninja, mini ninja, or some type of smoothie blender, then you are set.  I use my mini ninja pictured here and it works great!  There are plenty of storage things designed for freezing and storing baby food. I have these ones. However, I find that basic ice cube trays with lids from Target work great!  I also found these tiny ice cube trays that are great for making things as mix-ins.  I’ve made pears and zucchini in these.  Paxton eats a solid 2 ounces minimum now, but if you have a younger baby, having smaller cubes allows you to mix a couple of things without ending up with tons of food.

      Various sized icecube trays for freezing homemade baby food

      Once you have everything necessary for making the baby food, you need a way to store the frozen food.  If you have a baby food tray or ice cube tray that has a lid, you could store it in the tray.  You could also package the food into pouches and freeze these.  I have this machine to fill pouchesbut have never used it.  My hesitation is because the pouches aren’t really easier to feed at this stage and I can’t thaw them in the microwave.  I let everything freeze in the trays and then put the cubes into gallon-sized Ziplock bags.  I can write on the bag what it is and the date I made it.  It keeps the food from getting frost and is easy to store and label.

      Ziplock bags full of various types of homemade baby food cubes

      Step 5: Making Homemade Baby Food

      To actually make the food, you will wash, chop, peal and cook as required to get something that can be pureed or squished between the fingers (for older babies).  Most things can be either steamed or baked, but in general, baking preserves the nutrients a little better than steaming.  Once cooked until very soft, you can puree in your blender of choice.  Some things (like potatoes) will need a little water, breast milk or formula added to make it thin enough.  Other things (like pears) will be plenty watery without adding anything.  Below is a table of things I have made for Paxton, and my notes on making them.

      Chopped carrots on a white cutting board
      Carrots steaming on the stove
      Homemade baby food in containers ready to freeze
      Homemade baby food cubes on a red cutting board
      Here are the carrot cubes ready to put into a labeled bag.

      Step 6: Storing and Serving Homemade Baby Food

      Once the food is made, you can freeze it for up to 2 months.  Once thawed, you want to use the food within about 24 hours.  When reheating, I put the desired number of cubes into a baby bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  I stir and add an additional 30 seconds if required.  I then mix with Greek yogurt, oatmeal or rice cereal or applesauce as desired.  Alternatively, you can put the food for the next day into the fridge to thaw and serve it cold.  Baby doesn’t know what should be hot and what should be cold.  As long as it’s not frozen and not too hot, you are okay.  You do need to make sure you heat slowly and stir the food well to make sure there aren’t any hot spots.  I also mix the food with something cold like Greek yogurt or applesauce to further cool it down.

      “Homemade” Baby Food That Works Well For Baby, But Doesn’t Require Prep

      • No sugar added applesauce (just apples and water)
      • Bananas
      • Plain Greek yogurt
      • Avocado

      Note: Make sure all peels are removed prior to freezing.  I cook the sweet potatoes with the peel on and then scoop out the middle.  Everything else, I peel prior to cooking.  I also chop everything else prior to cooking so that it doesn’t take as long.  For butternut squash, I slice in half and scoop out the seeds prior to baking.


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      Note: There are different stages of solids.  When first starting baby on solid foods, you will want them very smooth and a little runny.  As baby gets more comfortable, you can increase the thickness.  Once baby is around 9-months old and can pick up food, you can start serving small pieces of food that can be squished between the fingers (like really well-cooked pasta or veggies) and things that dissolve quickly (like Cheerios).  Also, when first starting solids, only introduce a new food every 3 days or so.  This allows you to observe for any allergies.

      Ready to start planning meals for baby?  Get my free age-specific meal planner HERE!


      Homemade Baby Food 101
      Homemade Baby Food 101

      What homemade baby food have you made?  Was it successful?  Let me know in the comments.

      If your baby is drinking any formula (babies should drink breast milk or formula until they are at least a year old), check out my post on Affording Baby Formula.

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      Get Your FREE Baby Food Meal Planner

      Get a printable meal planner specific to your baby’s age. Each meal planner includes age-specific servings, a place to brainstorm foods and a calendar to plan meals and check which food groups are included.

        We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

        Homemade Baby Food 101

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