Are you spending more time thinking about first foods for baby than you ever have on your own diet? Welcome to mamahood.
Up to this point, your baby’s been quite happy to exist on a diet of formula and/or breastmilk. And now this demanding customer is suddenly wanting the finer things in life—cereal, soft carrots, avocado… When does it end?!
Okay, mama. Better hop to it before your little dinner guest gives you a bad review on baby Yelp.
In this article: 📝
- When do babies start eating baby food?
- Starting baby on solids
- Baby’s first foods
When do babies start eating baby food?
The CDC recommends an exclusively liquid diet (breastmilk or formula) for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, and continuing breastmilk/formula while introducing solid foods until baby is at least 12 months old.
Starting around six months, you can slowly begin introducing bits and bobs as hors d’oeuvres to their milky meals. 🍼+🍐=💗
So how do you know if they’re ready for some solid snacking? Let’s take a look:
Starting baby on solids
Babies are actually pretty good at letting you know when they’re up for something more solid—so your best bet is, as far as possible, let ‘em lead. Pushing too hard here can lead to food fussiness later on.
That being said, waiting too late can also have implications for them like making it harder to kick the bottle or breast when you feel ready.
If you feel like you’re ready to give solids a go, take a quick look through this checklist:
- Can they hold themselves up in a seated position?
- Can they hold their heads up high?
- Do they seem to want to put absolutely every object into their mouths? (Yes, this is a good sign.)
- Have they got rid of that weird tongue-thrust reflex that pushes everything out of their mouths?
- Can they OPEN WIDE?
- And lastly, do they want it? They’ll probably let you know that they’re pretty keen by lunging at your snacks and opening their mouths. (Rude.)
So, bottom line: start introducing the idea around four to six months and if they’re into it, awesome. If they’re not, patience. Watching their mood at mealtimes is a very good indicator.
Next question: if the readiness is there, how do you actually do it?
How do I introduce solids to my 4 month old?
In most cases, it’s best to wait until closer to six months to introduce solids. Ask your pediatrician if you think your four month old might be ready for solids. If they are ready, here is some advice that works for four to six months.
Because breastmilk/formula is still going to be their staple, the trick is to work the solid infusion into our pre-existing feeding schedule.
There’s no exact science to this, and every baby-mama combo is different—but here’s a sample Day in the Life of Introducing Solids:
- First thing in the morning: Breast/bottle feed as soon as they wake up in the morning. (Hopefully not too early for your sake.)
- Breakfast: If they’re big drinkers, try offering a small solid snack before their milk feed. If they’re not big drinkers, offer the milk before the snack.
- Lunch: Repeat as per breakfast.
- Afternoon snack: Repeat as per lunch
- Dinner: Repeat as per snack time.
- Bedtime: It’s bottle/breast time.
Remember, for infants, solid food is all just an add-on to their main diet of breastmilk/formula. If your baby is nine months or younger, continue to feed them in the region of 20 to 28 ounces (total) of breastmilk/formula every four hours or so.
Listen to your baby. Figure out what works for the two of you. If you’re worried about anything, give your healthcare practitioner a shout.
So what are the best first foods for a baby? Here are some ideas of what could be on your menu.
Baby’s first foods
What baby food should I introduce first?
Think simple foods, one at a time:
Simple. As in one ingredient only. (You can add breastmilk/formula to thin out the puree, if you want). And because that tiny digestive system is still getting used to life on this planet, steer clear of additives, including salt and sugar.
One at a time. Try a food type. Wait a few days. Try the next one. Just to make sure no reactions like rashes or stomach issues occur. If it’s all going well, you can start to combine ingredients.
Here what’s on the menu when starting on solids:
Baby cereal. 🌾 Mix a simple grain (like whole grain, oat, or brown rice) with a small amount of breastmilk, formula, or water to create a thin creamy consistency. And that’s it. (Pro tip: soft spoons go a long way to making the whole experience more comfortable for them.) Most baby cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals that your baby needs, like iron, B9 (folic acid), and C.
Fruit and veg. 🍠🍐Pureed and one at a time (to rule out allergies). No need to add anything to them. So what vegetables should baby eat first? Think options that can be softened up easily. Carrots, yams, butternut squash, avocado, plantain, pear, beats, beans, and banana all make great options.
And voila. Dinner is served.
(A word of caution: this whole operation can get quite messy. Bib up your baby—and yourself, if necessary.)
As they get older, they’ll be getting their pincer action on and will be able to hold some food themselves. That’s when you can get going with finger foods which allow you to sit back and relax (haha) while they dine.
Some good first finger foods for baby are tiny bits of soft protein (meat, chicken, tofu, eggs), pasta, bread, baby crackers, cheerios—and any of the fruit and veg that you’ve already been giving them. Make sure the pieces are small enough to not be a choking hazard.
Until your baby is a year old, avoid giving them cow’s milk, juice, and honey, as well as anything that could cause them to choke (nuts, raisins, hot dogs, etc.).
If your little one doesn’t seem too keen on the nosh you’ve so painstakingly prepared, don’t take it personally. The whole thing is very new to them too. It’s totally fine to abandon ship and try again the next day.
Giving them some power over what goes into their bodies is a great way to kickstart their relationship with food. (For more on this, here are the ins and outs of baby-led weaning.)
Mealtimes are where some of your best memories are going to be made. You’ll decorate your kitchen floor together in shades of avocado green and oatmeal beige. Mmm…