Introducing solid foods to your baby is an exciting milestone. While every baby is different, most babies are ready for solids by 4 to 6 months. Here are some tips for safely easing your little one into a wonderful new world of tastes and textures.
Steps to introducing solids to baby
Think your baby is ready to be introduced to solid foods? Check with your pediatrician, and once they give you the green light, follow these three steps.
Step 1. Start small
Begin by giving your baby one to two teaspoons of a single-ingredient soft or pureed food, such as vegetables or fruit. Be patient as your baby adjusts to spoon-feeding and swallowing solids. These are new skills, and you want to avoid overwhelming them as they take those first bites.
Gradually increase the food amount during each following meal. Try feeding a single-ingredient food for at least three days in a row before moving on to another food so that you can keep an eye out for any adverse reactions.
Step 2. Continue feeding breast milk or infant formula
Even though your baby is starting on solids, breast milk or formula will still be your little one’s primary source of nutrition until 12 months, so continue to feed them breast milk or formula throughout the day.
Giving your baby their familiar liquid food before a solid meal may also calm their hunger. A little breast milk or formula can help make them more comfortable trying something new. After mealtime, you may want to give your baby additional breast milk or formula.
Step 3. Give cues…and watch your baby’s cues
Your cues can go a long way to encourage your little one to enjoy trying solid foods.
- Create a calm and healthy eating environment. Place your baby comfortably in a high chair at the table and let them watch you and others eat. If they see everyone enjoying yummy solid food, they might want to join the fun.
- Let them explore their food. Eating is a sensory experience.
- Model positivity and good eating techniques. Tell your baby, “Mmm…this is so delicious,” while opening your mouth wide or showing them how to eat the food from the spoon. Your baby may want to imitate this exaggerated expression and dig in.
It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s cues, too.
Watch for indicators that your baby is full, such as the following:
- Turning their head away
- Pushing the food away
- Shaking head
- Refusing to open mouth
Try not to stress if your baby isn’t eating large amounts of solid food. They’re still getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula. You don’t want to force them to overeat or turn mealtime into a stressful experience for either of you.
Prepare for messes and spit-up
As your baby learns how to eat solids, mealtimes may get a bit messy. Playing with food is part of their development as they sample new flavors and work on fine motor skills. Not to mention, those unfamiliar food textures are very tempting to touch, squish, and mush. Grab a camera for some adorable pictures, and keep those bibs and burp cloths handy!
It’s also not uncommon to see some spit-up as your baby adjusts to solid foods. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if it becomes excessive or if your baby starts expressing pain or discomfort.
When is the right time to introduce solids to your baby?
Babies are generally ready for solids around four to six months of age. Answering the following questions can help you determine if your little one is developmentally ready to try solid foods:
- Can your baby sit up with minimal support?
- Are they mouthing toys often or showing interest in food by watching you eat?
- Does your baby have good head and neck control and the ability to hold their head upright for the meal?
- Is your baby picking up food or other objects between their thumb and forefinger?
- Has your baby doubled their birth weight?
If you answered “yes” to the above, your baby may be ready to try solid foods. Talk to your doctor for guidance.
What types of solid food should you feed your baby?
Your baby’s age and development will help dictate your child’s readiness for the types of solid foods they can eat. Your little one is learning to chew and sampling new flavors and foods, so the process can take some time.
Your baby’s first solid foods at 4-7 months
With your doctor's permission, you can start your baby with purees at around four to six months. These soft, smooth, liquified foods can be fruit, meats, vegetables, or nutrient-fortified, single-grain cereal mixed with formula or breast milk as advised by your doctor.
Give your baby a single-ingredient food and wait three days before introducing another food. By seven months, they may be consuming a variety of soft foods, but breast milk or infant formula is still your little one’s primary nutrition.
Your baby’s solid foods at 8-12 months
At around 8-10 months, babies can often manage finely chopped foods, soft foods, and finger foods, like pasta, fruits, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, crackers, cheese, fortified infant cereals, and yogurt. All foods should be soft to avoid choking hazards. It’s generally recommended to avoid foods that are spicy and high in sugar, salt, or fat. Avoid honey until your baby is at least a year old.
By the time your baby is 12 months, they can eat just about everything the rest of the family is enjoying at mealtime. Just be sure all foods are soft, not too big, and free from bones, pits, or other choking risks.
How much solid food to feed your baby?
When it comes to feeding your baby solids, think small and frequent. Your baby has a tiny stomach but needs to consume healthy foods throughout the day. While portion sizes may be minimal to start, your baby is growing fast and requires plenty of nutrients to support their health and development.
How much solid food to feed your baby at 4-7 months
Start by giving one to two teaspoons of a single-ingredient soft or pureed food, such as fruit, meat, or vegetables. Since you're still nursing or feeding your baby infant formula, beginning small and gradually introducing solid food is fine. You can work your way up to a few tablespoons a day.
How much solid food to feed your baby at 8-12 months
As your little one increases their solid food intake, breastfeeding or formula feeding will decrease. At around nine months, your baby could eat half a cup of solid food three or four times a day, plus a nutritious snack, like soft fruit or a teething cracker. By 12 months, you can continue breastfeeding, but solids should be the baby's primary nutrition source.
How to introduce solid food to your baby with a cow’s milk protein allergy
If your pediatrician has diagnosed your baby with cow’s milk protein allergy, you’ll want to consult your doctor for guidance. They may suggest starting your little one with pureed vegetables, fruit, and iron-rich foods such as meat or iron-fortified cereal.
Be sure to read food labels carefully. You may be surprised at how many unsuspecting foods have dairy ingredients, such as some commercial baby foods and cereals. Casein and whey are milk ingredients that you’ll want to avoid if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein.
Explore Enfamil Family Beginnings® for more baby feeding tips
Making your baby’s first solid-food mealtimes enjoyable can help establish a foundation for healthy eating. For more tips and resources on all things baby, including nutrition and feeding, be sure to join Enfamil Family Beginnings®. Enjoy up to $400 in savings, plus exclusive rewards, support, and surprises.