7 Tips for Beginning Solid Foods with Your Baby

Every parent wants to start their baby on the right solid foods – but how? A Henry Ford Health pediatrician shares her expert tips.

Introducing solid foods to your baby is an exciting milestone that marks a new chapter in their developmental journey. Just think: you are going to witness your child’s first taste of real food!

I still remember my oldest daughter’s eyes going wide with delight at her first taste of butternut squash which, by the way, she quickly devoured.

In a blog on the Henry Ford Health website, pediatrician Dr. Jordan Kridler offers guidance for this new phase to ensure that your baby not only enjoys their first foods but also receives the nutrients they need for healthy growth.

1. Knowing when to start

The right time to introduce solids varies from one baby to another, typically around 4 to 6 months. Dr. Kridler advises parents to watch for signs that their baby is ready, such as the ability to sit up without support. 

Another sign that your baby is interested in solid foods may be that they begin to show curiosity about what you’re eating. “It’s not just about age; it’s about developmental cues that show your baby is interested and physically ready,” says Dr. Krindler.

2. Selecting the first foods

Tip: It doesn’t only have to be rice cereal. For many parents, rice cereal is a popular first choice due to the fact that it is easily digestible and gentle on the stomach. However, Dr. Kridler encourages exploring other options like purees of fruits and vegetables. Some good choices: carrots, bananas, apples and sweet potatoes. These are all easy to digest and tasty for babies.

“Starting with single-ingredient purees helps you monitor for any adverse reactions and eases your baby into the new flavors,” she notes. These first foods should be free from added salts, sugars and artificial additives to keep them as healthy as possible.

3. Embracing the mess

Introducing solids can be a messy process as your baby learns how to handle new textures and tastes. “It’s perfectly normal for babies to play with their food and even spit it out as they get used to eating from a spoon,” says Dr. Krindler. 

If your baby spits out food at first, don’t get discouraged. “It can take up to 15 times of trying a new food before your baby starts to take to it,” says Dr. Kridler.

She encourages parents to keep the mood light for your child and make feeding times a fun time. “This is as much a learning experience as it is a feeding one,” she explains.

4. Avoiding certain foods (at least initially)

While introducing a variety of foods is important, there are certain foods that should be introduced with caution. Common allergens such as eggs, nuts, dairy and fish might need to be delayed, especially if there’s a history of allergies in the family. 

“Always introduce new foods gradually and keep an eye out for any signs of a reaction,” Dr. Kridler advises. If you have other children with allergies or you have them yourself, consulting with an allergist can also help tailor a safe introduction plan.

5. Fostering independence with finger foods

As your baby grows and gains more motor skills, finger foods become an important next step. However, use caution when offering finger foods to your baby and offer soft, easy-to-swallow foods cut into small pieces. 

One benefit of finger foods is that they give your baby a sense of independence since they are able to feed these to themselves. It’s a whole new world! 

“This stage is crucial for developing their fine motor skills and encouraging them to be active participants at mealtime,” says Dr. Kridler.

6. Continuing breastmilk or formula

Throughout the introduction of solid foods, you still need to continue with breastmilk or formula. “These should remain the primary source of nutrition until about 7 to 9 months of age,” Dr. Kridler says. 

Giving your child breastmilk or formula during this transitional eating phase will ensure that they continue to receive the important nutrients they need.

7. Introducing other liquids

It’s no surprise that babies like the sweet taste of juice. However, think twice about juice or even water while your child gets used to solid foods. The reason? If their little tummies fill up with liquids, they won’t want to eat. 

Moderation is key with water and juice can be put on hold until your baby is older, says Dr. Krindler. She recommends limiting water to no more than 8 ounces a day after 6 months and advises against introducing juice until after the first year. 

“Juice offers no nutritional benefit at this age and can detract from the intake of more nutrient-rich foods,” she says.

Remember, every baby is unique, and their readiness for solids will vary. Embrace this new adventure with patience and enthusiasm, and you’ll soon see your baby enjoying a whole new world of flavors and textures. Here’s to a happy and healthy eating journey for your growing baby!

For more information on Henry Ford Health please visit henryford.com. Click here for more Metro Parent articles on kids’ top health questions.

Jenny Kales
Jenny Kales
Content editor Jenny Kales has been in the business of writing for more than 20 years. A natural storyteller, she loves helping Metro Parent clients tell their stories in a way that resonates with their audiences.

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