This is one stage that I know can be a very nerve wracking and scary for many parents. One of the most important things to remember is that there is no gold standard “right way” of starting baby on solid foods. I have compiled solid food charts to help you have an idea of what foods are safe, healthy and nutritious for your baby as you both begin the journey into solid foods.
During pregnancy, your baby got all of her nutrients and vitamins from the food you ate and the vitamins you took. Once your baby was born, all those extra vitamins and nutrients were stored in her body to help her grow. As your baby gets bigger, those extra vitamins start to lessen. When your baby is between 4-6 months, she may begin to show signs that she is ready to try some solid foods alongside her breastmilk or formula diet. However, don’t rush to start your baby on solid foods. Just watch for her developmental cues and she’ll let you know when she’s ready. When beginning solid foods in your baby’s diet, it’s important to know that solid foods are meant to complement your baby’s overall nutrition, not replace breastmilk or formula.
Babies will probably only eat 1/2 of a tablespoon portion of food the very first times you begin solids. Don’t expect your baby to “finish” a meal; remember this is a new experience for your baby. As your baby gets older and is eating more solids, you will gradually increase the portion sizes. Also, keep in mind that breast milk and/or infant formula are providing for the total nutrition of your baby at this stage
Baby Should Eat
- Single-grain cereals (4 to 6 months) The level of iron that is stored up while in utero drops after birth, and a baby reaches an all-time low at around 9 months. That’s why cereals are fortified with iron and why they’re a good first food. Combine one teaspoon of single-grain cereal with four to five teaspoons of breast milk or formula. Once your baby is used to swallowing runny cereal, thicken it by adding more cereal
- Pureed veggies, fruits, and meats (4 to 8 months) Some doctors say eating fruits before vegetables can cause a lifelong preference for sweet foods, but there’s not much research to back that up. So it’s up to you whether to begin with bananas or carrots.
- Chopped, ground, or mashed foods (9 to 12 months) If your child isn’t ready to move to this stage, it’s fine to stay with pureed foods a little longer. When he’s ready, offer him some finely chopped or mashed finger foods — try graham crackers, soft fruits and veggies, and ground meats. It’s also safe to feed your child soft rice and casseroles at this point.
What Should the Mealtime Routine Be?
A baby needs focus to eat, so start a routine where you wash his hands, soothe him, and then sit him down to eat. And maintain the calmness. Turn off the TV and any loud music. “This will help your baby become conscious of eating and learn to recognize when he’s full,” says Marilyn Tanner, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
It will take time for your baby to feel comfortable with the new sensations that go along with eating the feel of a spoon in his mouth and the tastes and textures of different foods.