As a parent, you have survived childbirth, sleepless nights, and breastfeeding. Now it’s time to conquer feeding your baby their first solid foods! It is commonly agreed upon in the medical community that the best time to start your baby on solid foods is around 6 months old, but check with your pediatrician before you change your baby’s diet. Signs to look for that your baby may be ready to start solid foods are demonstrating good head control and sitting up with minimal support. If your baby shows interest in food by reaching toward your plate or looks for more food after being breastfed, it might be time for baby’s first solid foods.
Where to Start
Knowing where and when to start anything can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. When it comes to starting a baby on their first solid food, its best to begin feeding when they are not too tired or cranky. Making this a positive experience will help you down the road.
To make it easier for your baby, bottle (or breast-) feed them first so they are not overly hungry. After they have been fed, offer them one serving of solid food. The traditional way to start solid foods is by spoon feeding your baby. Start with a few teaspoons, and let them tell you when they have had enough. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t want to eat much at first, feeding a baby solid food for the first time is a process.
Another way to introduce baby’s first foods is called “baby-led weaning.” Essentially you put large chunks of soft food on a high chair tray and let your baby explore it. Let them squish the food through their fingers, smell it, and eat it. By learning to explore the food, your baby is more likely to have a good introduction to it.
Keep in mind that breast milk or formula will still provide the majority of your baby’s calories and nutrition until around a year old. Solid foods can’t replace the nutrients found in breast milk and formula for a baby’s first year of life. This means that mealtime is more about them learning the act of eating and the tastes and textures of foods in the beginning than it is about them consuming calories.
My baby isn’t a fan of formula, which is ok with me because we’re still nursing. I do let him have a bottle of water for fun though. He loves taking a few sips after he’s done eating. The only bottle I’ve gotten him to take is Joovy Boob. I love the Joovy Boob bottle because it’s easy to clean,
Solid Food Facts
For those with a content, milk-loving baby, it can be tempting to put off feeding your baby solid foods for as long as possible. However, a baby is born with only so much zinc and iron stores, and they cannot get more from breast milk. These stores are typically only available for 6-7 months, at which time they begin to decrease rapidly. By waiting longer than 7 months to introduce solid foods, you run the risk that your baby will have an iron deficiency.
Regardless of what you have heard, your baby should NOT have rice cereal as its first food. Even though rice cereal provides enough zinc and iron for a growing baby, it’s not the best option for introducing your baby to their first foods. Believe it or not, well-cooked, finely minced or pureed meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, and legumes can be safe for babies and offer enough iron for their growing bodies. Taste matters, so let your sweet babe decide what is right for them and what is not. I personally recommend avocados, bananas, and sweet potatoes as first foods. Mash a tiny portion of food in the Nuk Mash & Serve Bowl when you first introduce solids. Baby will only want a couple bites for the first week or two so preparing a whole tray of food is unnecessary, especially until you know what your baby likes.
Sara Peternell, a nutritionist and expert in family nutrition, says that “babies have a very immature digestive system, so when we introduce something that’s more of a refined grain, that takes a lot more energy from the digestive system to try to break it down and extract the nutrients.” Amylase is the enzyme needed to break down most carbohydrates found in fortified rice cereals, but babies don’t make enough of it at the age of 4-6 months. As a rule, avoiding foods that cause discomfort is key to establishing a positive feeding relationship during infancy.
Make Your Own Baby Food
It’s easier than you think to make your own baby food. Most items are easy enough to mash without a food processor, but I use my Nutribullet to puree my homemade baby food. If you don’t have a Nutribullet, blender, or a food processor, consider getting the Baby Bullet or the Beaba Babycook that steams and then blends your baby food.
Once your baby’s food is pureed, store it in small, single serving containers like Glasslock baby food containers that are freezer and dishwasher safe. If you want to make and store a week’s worth of baby food, get a silicone freezer-safe tray like KIDDO FEEDO baby food prep and storage container. It’s BPA free, FDA approved, multipurpose use, and comes with a FREE eBook on baby feeding. Plus you can get 50% off a KIDDO FEEDO bib when you buy a storage container of the same color. I got mine in orange!
It’s not always easy or feasible to purchase a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables in the winter months. It can also get costly pretty quickly too. If you still want your baby to enjoy all the taste and nutrition of organic vegetables without the hassle, check out Dr. Cowan’s Garden. Consider grabbing a jar of Winter Squash Powder or Threefold Blend Powder to mix in with your baby’s mashed bananas or apple puree. Transform your baby’s food into sophisticated and nutritious cuisines with Dr. Cowan’s powders. There is no way the average stay at home would have the time to cook this wide of a variety of fresh, organic veggies on a daily basis. Dr. Cowan makes it easy with his high-quality vegetable powders that can be added to a variety of baby’s foods or your own soups, stews, casseroles, and more!
Things to Avoid
Avoid pureeing your own beets, carrots, turnips, spinach, or collard greens for food until your baby is at least 7 months old. These vegetables have a large number of nitrates in them which can cause anemia in infants. If you want to feed your baby these foods, make sure to buy organic commercially made baby food, as they are tested to be nitrate free.
Avoid honey until your baby is at least one because it can contain spores that may produce a life-threatening condition called infant botulism. Even when your child is old enough, check with your pediatrician for their recommendation before feeding them honey, just to be safe!
It’s not common, but it’s also not that rare for mothers bring home their first (or even fifth) child to find that they are malnourished. Make sure to get regular checkups and consult your doctor in regards to the health of your baby. The human brain can only develop properly with the right nutrition, and at your little one’s age, this is extremely important. If you are noticing weight loss or an overly fussy babe, consult your physician to make sure they are healthy and happy.
First Food Tips
- Introduce one food at a time. Monitor your baby for 3-5 days for signs of allergic reactions like diarrhea, vomiting, or rash before moving on to a new food.
- Texture may be an issue for your child, so start with softer and smoother textures, moving gradually towards thicker foods.
- Don’t be surprised by a picky eater. Disliking specific foods is normal, but it’s important to continue offering those foods that your baby seems to initially dislike in order to shape a healthy child.
- Introducing the same food 15 to 20 times before your baby likes or tries it is normal.
- There is no arguing that babies are expensive. Do your research before you start buying bowls and cups and spoons!
- Homemade baby food is ideal because it offers a variety of flavors and nutrients that commercial baby food lacks and it’s cheaper! However, if you must buy your baby food, try Happy Baby Organic baby food so your baby doesn’t miss out on flavor and nutrition. All my kids have loved Happy Baby products including toddler snacks.
As with anything new, be patient. You may have a happy food-loving baby or you may be blessed with a picky eater. Whatever the case may be, introducing your babe to a variety of first foods is the best way to decide what is best for them.