How and When to Start Your Baby on Solid Foods
Once your baby is 6 months old, it’s time to start introducing them to solid foods. It’s important for parents to learn how to take on this transition in the best way possible.
A mother’s breast milk is the most essential part of a baby’s diet during their first 6 months of life. Of course, when breast milk is not an option, then baby formula takes its place.
Generally speaking, babies double their birth weight at around 4 months of life – averaging about 15.5 lbs. At this point, they are already prepared to take in their first solid foods. Of course, you should always follow your pediatrician’s indications.
Solid foods: A whole new world for babies
The first advice you need in order to start your baby on solid foods is to take it slow. Often, when you give your baby her first spoonful of food, she’ll push it right back out. This is normal.
She might not have the ability to move the food to the back of her mouth yet in order to swallow. Remember, she’s never done this before!
Adults enjoy having a wide variety of foods in their diet. However, babies need to incorporate new foods little by little, as all of the flavors are completely new to them.
Don’t forget the fact that your baby has never tried anything thicker than breast milk or formula. So she’ll likely need some time to get used to eating.
If you notice that a food is too thick for her, then try watering it down the first few tries. You can try offering thicker servings later on.
Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day
Start with just half a spoonful of food. Talk to your baby throughout the process, offering positive reinforcement. Say things like, “doesn’t this look yummy?”
Remember that your baby might not know what to do at first. He might seem confused or turn up his nose. He might play around with the food in his mouth, or even reject it altogether. If that happens, don’t be discouraged.
Another way to incorporate new foods into your baby’s diet for the first time is by offering your baby milk at the same time (breast milk or formula). You can alternate between half a spoonful of food and half a spoonful of milk.
Once your baby has learned to eat his first solid food, then it’s a good idea to start introducing additional foods one at a time. This way, you’ll be sure your baby will get used to trying and eating all sorts of flavors.
Keep in mind that when you introduce a new food, you should wait 5 to 7 days before introducing another. This will allow you to detect and identify any possible food allergies or intolerances. And, for the same reason, you shouldn’t mix new foods together during this stage. Rather, you should start out with one-ingredient meals.
You can start with cereals
Fortified cereals are a good source of iron and vitamin B for children. They also help to provide the calories your little one needs. Offering small amounts of simple cereals along with breastmilk or formula is a good way to introduce your baby to solid foods.
Remember that you should never put cereals in your child’s bottle, as this is a choking hazard. Furthermore, giving your baby cereals in his bottle habitually without a doctor’s recommendation could cause your baby to gain too much weight.
Move on to vegetables and then fruits
Typically, parents start their child’s complementary diet with the introduction of simple cereals, meaning only one grain at a time.
There’s no evidence that solid foods should be introduced in any specific order. However, we recommend starting with cereals, then moving on to veggies, and then fruits. .
Getting your baby used to eating vegetables at an early age is a great idea. We all know that toddlers and older children are prone to rejecting veggies. However, babies tend to acquire a taste for vegetables much more easily – use that to your advantage!
Start offering your baby vegetables at lunch time. Later on, you can offer your baby pureed fruits as a morning or afternoon snack.
Each child will be prepared according to his or her own developmental pace
Don’t force your child to eat if she cries or turns her head away when you offer new foods. If your little one repeatedly refuses to eat, then it might be best to go back to exclusive breast or bottle feeding for a bit longer.
You can try offering food at a later date. Getting your child to eat is a gradual process. Remember, your child will still be getting the nutrients she needs from breastmilk and/or formula.
In order for your child to have a healthy and varied diet in the future, it’s important for your baby to acquire the habit of eating a variety of foods while he’s still small. This is also the time to teach your child to manage his or her appetite.
Don’t force your baby to eat more than he wants, so he learns to recognize when he is full. And, at the same time, if your child finishes his food and is still hungry, give him more food or offer to nurse/bottle feed so that he doesn’t stay hungry.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Birch LL, Doub AE. (2014). Learning to eat: birth to age 2 y. Am J Clin Nutr. Mar;99(3):723S-8S.
- Coulthard H, Harris G, Emmett P. (2009). Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child’s food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age. Matern Child Nutr. 2009 Jan;5(1):75-85
- Fernández-Vegue, Marta Gómez. (2018). “Alimentación Complementaria.” Asociación Española de pediatría.