Is my baby ready for solids? When do I start feeding solids? How exactly does this whole solids thing work? I feel ya’. Going from breast or bottle to solids can be a little overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. We’ll breakdown the basics here to make the whole thing feel a little easier!
As long as you have the go ahead from your child’s pediatrician and your baby is displaying ready signs (below!) – off to the kitchen!
Your pediatrician may recommend you begin exploring solids with your baby between 5-8 months old. However, keep in mind that children who aren’t interested in solids can and do still thrive solely on breast milk until 9-12 months (or later). You may even hear some other parents say, “food is for fun” around this early age marker, and they are pretty right! Your baby will still receive most of their nutrients from formula or breastmilk and exploring foods is just a new extracurricular activity for them (and you!).
Here are some signs that your baby is ready for solids:
- Your baby can sit up by themselves, well, and without support.
- Your baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (i.e. your little one no longer push solids out of his mouth with his tongue immediately).
- Your baby is developing a “pincer” grasp
- Your baby is ready, willing, able, to chew (ya know, mush and other forms of mush)
- Baby is interested in food and mealtime, your baby is trying to grab at food or put food in their own mouth.
You do not need to give foods in a certain order. By 7 or 8 months old, your child can eat a variety of foods from different food groups including things like infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts and cheeses, and more.
Some guidelines to keep the little ones safe & happy
- Let it be an experience! Let them touch the food, play with it, try to feed themselves. Let them mush their fingers and hands in the food, stick mushy bananas across their face. Feeding is about learning about new textures, tastes, smells, and how to eat! You can alternate giving them a mashed up avocado to “feed themselves” with taking a few spoonfuls of a homemade puree as time goes on. Remember it isn’t really about consumption at this point and it certainly is not about cleanliness.
- Allergies: Let your child try one food at a time at first. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Once you are past a few different foods, especially ones with a higher allergic index, your doctor may say you can stop this waiting practice.
- Know the common allergies: The top 8 most common allergenic foods soybeans, dairy, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and fish. The jury is out between pediatricians, parents, allergists, and AAP on offerings these items or delaying these foods. You should do your own research and talk to your doctor on it. Nowadays, most professionals suggestion earlier introductions than they use to.
- Stay away from honey until after a year old.
- Keep it soft! Mix cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water to make it easy for your wee one to swallow. Mash or puree vegetables, fruits and other foods until they are smooth. Hard fruits and vegetables especially need to be cooked so they can be served soft, easily mashed or pureed.
- Proteins: Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish prior to cooking.
- Obviously, remove any seeds and pits from fruit and cut the fruit into very small pieces. Most of the time, skin needs to be removed too.
- Circular or chunky = choking hazard. Cut small spherical foods like grapes, cherries, berries and tomatoes into small pieces.
- Cook and finely grind whole-grain kernels of wheat, barley, rice, and other grains.
Baby Knows Best
- Follow your baby’s cues, “let your baby be the guide,”
- If your wee one doesn’t respond positively to solids or a specific food, take it easy. Maybe even take a step back and try again later or another day. Baby’s taste buds are super strong and this is a whole new experience for them – texture, taste, smells, etc. They might make funny faces or push things out of their mouth. Try, try, try again. It can take up to 20 times before they’re used to certain foods. Don’t force food, but be persistent in offering.
- Alternate smooth puree with a slightly thicker or mashed food to help your baby get used to the new textures in their mouth – same day or different days!
Foods Easy to Try
- Scrambled eggs. Some Doctors used to advise waiting to introduce eggs, but the AAP now recommends early exposure to potentially allergenic foods. Cook thoroughly and cut into super small pieces – avoid adding salt and other flavorings.
- Super soft, very ripe fruits. Ripe banana, peach, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries and cantaloupe cut into small pieces are all great finger food options. Remove skins and peels. Mush up as needed.
- Avocado. This is often one of the first baby finger foods, even when your little one has no teeth.
- Tofu. Go for a firm tofu, (still super soft) as the soft or silken tofu will fall apart and be a challenge for baby to feed themselves.
- Cooked vegetables. Try sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or beets (opt for yellow beets for less mess) to start. These items are best overcooked/super steamed and mashed up or cut into small, small pieces.
Along with “finger foods” above (like mushy bananas, avocado, etc.) – your baby can also be fed purees alongside these meals or alternating. You can do this at the same meal time, at different meal times or on different days. Homemade purees are created but I truly love Little Spoon which just made life like a million times easier.
Side note: You can skip purees although. It’s called ‘baby led weaning.’