The Secret to Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby
Introducing solid foods to your baby can feel a lot like a food fight: You’re just trying to help them finish their meal when suddenly you’re both covered in indistinguishable goop.
Thankfully, at ParentEducate.com, we’ve created more than 100 online courses to help families like yours more easily navigate the highs and lows of parenting — including child nutrition and healthy eating habits.
We’ve used that information to create this go-to guide for introducing solid foods to your kiddo and stopping the high-chair food fight before it even happens.
Make sure you’re transitioning at the right time.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s best to introduce your baby to solid foods between the ages of four and six months. During this time, most babies stop using their tongues to spit up food and begin developing the coordination needed to move food backward through the mouth for swallowing.
In addition to being the right age, children should also meet a few other milestones that signal they’re ready for solid food, including:
- Being able to hold their heads upright and steady.
- Sitting up alone or with little support.
- Opening their mouths when food is offered.
- Trying to grasp small objects like toys or food.
- Showing signs of hunger after getting a full day’s portion of milk.
Pack your baby’s menu with the proper items.
Once you’ve determined that your little one is ready for you to start introducing solid foods, it’s off to the races! While there aren’t any hard and fast rules for what food your baby should have first, it is important to ensure they’re getting a good variety of foods to help them grow their taste buds.
For babies under six months, we recommend starting with single-ingredient foods like pureed veggies, fruits and meats. Single-grain cereals also work as an easy starting point (especially if you combine one tablespoon of cereal with four tablespoons of breastmilk or formula). Once you’ve introduced a new food, try to wait three to five days before introducing another to see if your kid has any adverse reactions including vomiting, diarrhea or itching.
Once your baby has reached the six- to eight-month mark, you can start introducing smaller finger foods for them to try and experiment self-feeding with. These include things like sliced soft fruits (e.g. bananas, peaches, blueberries), cooked pasta noodles and baby crackers.
Create a mealtime routine.
The most successful mealtimes are structured, so try to introduce an eating routine at the same time you’re introducing solid foods. For starters, ensure your baby begins every meal by sitting in a high chair for feeding. If you have any music or television going in the background, we recommend pausing it for the first few meals so your baby can focus on the food in front of them. Next, offer your child a smaller version of whatever utensil you’ll use to feed them to hold during the meal. This will help them feel more familiar with spoons, forks and sporks when it comes time to feed themselves. Finally, try to place any meal servings in a dish (rather than spooning directly from a jar or container) to help prevent leftovers from spoiling after the meal.
While your little one is munching, talk to them and provide positive feedback to help them feel comfortable and supported.
Keep your cool.
Chances are your first solid food mealtime experience with your baby won’t be perfect — but that’s to be expected. As with anything in parenting, teaching your kid to eat (and enjoy) solid foods is a process. That’s why it’s important to start each meal with a level head, ready to take on whatever antics come your way. Be sure to take deep breaths along the way and don’t be ashamed to take a moment for yourself if things become too overwhelming. And, when in doubt, just remind yourself that even the best chefs find themselves covered in food from time to time.
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