Tips for Starting Your Baby on Solids
The first year of your baby's life is full of milestones, big and small. It's so exciting to see them learn and grow! One of the most significant milestones you'll experience with your baby between six months and a year is their introduction to solid foods.
The CDC recommends starting solid foods around six months, but every child is different. Be sure to discuss your plans with your pediatrician, and use the following tips to make the process less stressful and more fun!
When to Start Solids
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding until at least six months old. Be sure to continue breast milk or formula until told otherwise. Solids will not take over as the main source of nutrients until ten to twelve months.
These recommendations are based on the nutrients needed during this time and the risk of choking.
Every child is different, and dietary needs may vary, so discussing with your pediatrician is essential. While some parents will start solids with their little ones at six months, others may wait until around one year.
According to the CDC, these should all apply to your child before starting solids:
- Sits up alone or with support.
- Is able to control head and neck.
- Opens the mouth when food is offered.
- Swallows food rather than pushes it back out onto the chin.
- Brings objects to the mouth.
- Tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
- Transfers food from the front to the back of the tongue to swallow.
4 Tips for Starting Solids
You got the green light from your pediatrician, your baby is ready, and you're excited to start. Now, where to start?
Once you've decided on the food and know how to prepare it (more on that below), you're probably wondering how to initiate feeding. This is up to you! You may already know your baby is interested in foods as they reach for or lean in for your food. If not, a great way to start is with spoon-feeding.
Scoop up your first food onto a spoon and let your child come to you. Place the spoon near their lips, and they will likely smell, taste, or touch it.
Keep in mind: Many babies reject food at the start. They can continue rejecting new foods as time goes by. Without forcing anything, continue to offer these foods.
1. First Solids
What food should you choose? This will largely depend on when you are introducing solids. Appropriate foods for a one-year-old will be different from a six-month-old. Note that you do not need to introduce solids in any order.
One option for starting solids is jumping in with "baby-led weaning." Baby-led weaning is an introduction to family mealtime as a whole and offers finger foods from the start.
If you'd rather start slowly, a popular first food is baby oatmeal or cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. Another common first food is a pureed veggie. While purees are not "solid," they are considered solids because they aren't liquid.
Starting with purees is an easy way to introduce different foods without too much stress - they’re easiest for babies to eat, allowing parents to ease into the transition that can feel otherwise a little scary.
Here are some additional foods that make great first solids, including options for baby-led weaning (BLW).
- Pureed/mashed fruits and vegetables
- Infant oat, grain, or barley cereals mixed with breastmilk/formula
- Pureed meats
- Roasted sweet potato wedges
- Roasted apple or broccoli wedges
- Melon or mango slices
- Toast sticks
- Lamb or beef on the bone or a large piece to suck on
2. How to Feed
How you are feeding and serving the foods is just as important as what you're feeding. There are high-risk choking foods to be aware of (listed below) and best practices for feeding that will set your child up for success on their way to independent feeding.
The way foods are presented to your child will depend on the food, their abilities, and their age. An excellent resource for this is Solid Starts, an app and website that provides examples of how to cut and serve foods by age.
3. Feeding Products
Plates, bowls, bibs, cutlery, a high chair… What is needed? A must-have product for feeding at any age is our Busy Baby Silicone Placemats. These suction to smooth surfaces and protect them from the inevitable mess your baby will make while exploring food for the first time!
Try them out with our Feeding Utensils, designed specifically for young babies. They’re easy to hold and attach to any Busy Baby Mat so that they don’t keep falling on the ground. While your little one may not know exactly how to use a spoon or fork yet, having them explore these or use them for teething is a great idea at a young age.
Having a bib that will catch dribbles and spills from staining their clothes is also key. The Busy Baby Bungee Bib has a large pouch for catching those missed bites and tethers to keep utensils attached as well. Good Houskeeping awarded the Busy Baby Bib a 2023 parenting award saying, "Our kitchen pros thought the design was both cute and clever, while parents found it helpful in real-life settings, especially when dining out at restaurants. Besides keeping their items cleaner, it also helped babies stay entertained."
4. Foods to Avoid
Some important notes about foods to avoid and other choking-risk foods.
- Saturated Fat
- Whole nuts and peanuts
- Some cheeses
- Raw and lightly cooked eggs
- Rice drinks
- Cooked or raw whole corn kernels
- Uncut cherry or grape tomatoes
- Pieces of hard raw vegetables or fruit, such as raw carrots or apples
- Whole pieces of canned fruit
- Uncut grapes, berries, cherries, or melon balls
- Uncooked dried vegetables or fruit such as raisins
Time to Eat!
Again, much of this process will depend on your baby, their abilities, and their needs. Remember that your pediatrician has excellent advice that will be personalized to your child. Whether going the baby-led weaning route or starting on purees, have fun! Keep a list of foods with a note of how they liked it.
Time to start! Enjoy this next milestone.