Starting solid foods: A guide to a great adventure with your baby

How, and when, to start your baby on solids can bring up a lot of doubts.

Starting your baby on solid foods is an adventure for both of you. Your baby gets to experience a wealth of tastes, textures, and smells that are far beyond the formula or breast milk they have had up to now, and you get to experience the delighted face of a baby tasting sold food for the first time. How, and when, to start your baby on solids can bring up a lot of doubts, but if you take it a step at a time you can have a lot of fun with it.

When to start

The question of when to start solid foods can be a tricky one. Babies as young as four months can act as if they are interested in food, reaching for your plate and staring at you as you eat. This does not mean they are ready to start solids, and starting too early can increase the risk of allergies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wait until your baby is six months old before you start on solids. Up until that time, formula or breast milk contains all of the nutrition your baby needs.

Foods to start with

When you introduce solid foods, it is best to start with purees, although some babies do fine with soft table food. Many moms start with baby cereal because it is bland and easy on the digestive system.

You can mix it with formula or breast milk to keep the taste similar to what your baby is accustomed to, yet KellyMom , a breastfeeding advocacy site, states that infant cereals may not be the best first food because they are low in iron. The truth is there is no magical answer to which foods are right to start with, so you’ll have to decide what works best for you. If you decide to skip the cereals and jump right into more solid foods, consider starting with veggies first, so your baby will not develop a taste for sweet fruits and refuse the veggies.

Solid foods and allergens

One important concern when introducing food for the first time is the risk of allergies. You won’t know that your baby has an allergy until you give them an allergen and they react to it. In order to pinpoint the cause of an allergy, if one exists, introduce one food at a time and wait a day in between introducing other new foods. It can take a while to introduce all of your normal foods in this way, but if your baby shows an allergy, it will be easier to determine the cause.

Transitioning to table food

Once your baby has mastered purees and can pinch small items between their fingers, and, provided you feel comfortable that there are no allergies to deal with, you can switch to soft table food. To ensure adequate nutrition, opt for whole, not processed, foods, whenever possible.

Feeding your baby from the table is not difficult. Simply give them small portions to pick up and feed themselves. You can also preload spoons with foods like mashed potatoes that cannot be picked up. Don’t be afraid of spice, either, many babies love food with a bit of a kick. Soon, they will be eating alongside the rest of the family, successfully transitioning from the bottle or breast to solid foods.