Introducing solid baby food to your little one is a big step.
In the picture to the left, the baby just tried solid foods for the very first time. She looks a bit surprised, don’t you think? Like “What was THAT?”. :-)
The baby happens to be my daughter, and she was actually very easy to introduce solids to. She basically opened her mouth, swallowed and opened her mouth for more. End of story.
Both our sons and particularly our youngest son was a totally different story. He was really hard to convince of the benefits of solid food. Or actually of anything but breast milk. He made faces and spat it all out in the beginning.
People are different. Not all babies are impressed by solid baby food. And they may not be ready for it just because you are. They might be suspicious of all new tastes and weird consistencies. They might have difficulties swallowing anything but liquid. Then there are allergies.
Tips For Introducing Solid Baby Food
- Be prepared with the camera
- Start at around six months
- Start with a simple taste
- Start with a small amount
- Additional liquid or not
- When to feed your baby
- How do I know if my baby is full?
- Don’t force it!
- Equipment advice
Be prepared with the camera
The first time never comes back. It doesn’t really matter if the baby spits it all out or swallows and asks for more, it is still a memorable moment. So be ready to document it!
Start at around six months
WHO recommends only breastfeeding during your baby’s first six months. This was changed quite recently. Before the recommendation was only breastfeeding for 4-6 months.
Why the change?
WHO has reviewed all the benefits of breastfeeding. There are a lot of benefits from breastfeeding.
However, there are of course no fixed dates that you have to obey to.
Here are some important indications that your baby is ready to try solid foods:
- Many babies become interested in what their parents put in their mouths at some point when they are 4-6 months old. Older than 6 months, it may be harder to start with solid baby food.
- Another milestone is that your baby should at least have doubled his or her birth weight.
- To make life easier, wait with introducing solid food until your baby can hold his or her head steadily and sit well on your lap. It is not necessary that your baby is able to sit without support, though.
- Start when the baby seems to be interested. How can you know if your baby is interested? Well, one way is to try…
So start at around six months. Check with your baby’s health care provider for your specific situation.
Other clues are:
- Study your baby’s reactions when he or she is sitting on your lap when the rest of the family eats. If he or she follows what you do, maybe tries to grab the fork or the food, it might be time to let your little one this strange behavior too. :-)
- Another indication that your baby is ready for solid food is that he or she seems hungry! He might be gaining weight as he should, but wants to eat more often or is less content.
Start with a simple taste
Imagine to never have tasted anything but a sweet, warm liquid. Your baby doesn’t even know that there are other tastes or consistencies or temperatures in the world.
Start with something easy. Either buy a can of baby food for his or her appropriate age, make baby cereals or cook a potato that you mash and mix with breast milk or formula. There should be no lumps at all in the food and it should be almost liquid. Baby food recipes for the absolute beginner can be found here.
Don’t use any salt at all when you prepare your baby’s food! babies’ kidneys are not enough developed handle salt. Also, wait with serving meat and fish until your baby is older than six months. Fruit, vegetables, and cereals are good choices in the beginning.
Start with a small amount
For your baby, solid baby food is a new world. Start slowly once a day. One or two teaspoons is enough in the beginning. This way you will notice if your baby has an allergy or if his or her stomach gets upset.
Additional liquid or not
When I was to introduce solid baby food to my first baby, I got worried that he wouldn’t get enough liquid since I substituted some of the breast milk with solids.
I tried giving him water but he refused. I then rushed to the drugstore to buy some baby juice.
In the beginning, your baby will still get almost all his or her food in liquid form. Absolutely no reason to introduce expensive baby juice or other liquid. Offer water, breastmilk and/or formula and nothing else.
When to feed your baby
Try feeding your baby when he or she is hungry but not starving and not very tired. It isn’t all that important at what point of the day you feed your baby solids. Pick a time that you find convenient and then try to stick to it as babies love routines.
It may seem very tempting to serve the solid food in the evening to maybe help your baby sleep longer without getting hungry. That’s just fine, but you might want to start earlier in the day the first few times, just to make sure that baby food doesn’t give your baby stomach pain. So if the evening is your goal, start feeding him baby food in the afternoon and then move to the evening after a few days.
Don’t try to feed your baby solids when he or she is very tired since this will only cause problems! Also, don’t wait until your baby is starving, because then your child will be very focused then on getting his or her usual breastmilk or formula. In such case, first, offer the breast milk or formula then provide some solid baby food afterward.
How do I know if my baby is full?
Well, a full baby will not want to eat anymore. Simple as that. Don’t focus too much on the amount.
For breastfeeding mothers, this might be the first time you actually notice how much your baby eats. When breastfeeding there is no way to know without pumping.
So just relax. Your baby will eat as much as he or she wants to. Offer one more spoon a few times. If your baby continues to reject it, respect his or her choice.
If your baby doesn’t want any solids at all, try again the next day. And the next.
To learn some more about children’s eating habits, click here.
Don’t force it!
Babies are routine lovers. If your baby isn’t interested in doing much more than maybe put his or her hand in the food, just try again the next day with a big smile.
Eating is natural and fun should be your message. Let your baby take his time and never force your child to eat. If your baby is ready, he or she will be interested in a day or two.
If your baby continues to make faces and spit, consider trying another taste. For example cereal instead of potatoes.
If your baby gets upset or refuses to taste the food, don’t force it. Wait a week or two and try again. There is no hurry.
Have you ever seen an adult who lives on breast milk or formula? No? Well you see, it’s just a matter of time before your baby eats only solid food!
For some tips on how to avoid power struggles at meal time, click here. Remember that it is a lot more fun to try to encourage a picky eater, than to use force!
There really isn’t much equipment needed to for introducing solid baby food. The basic equipment you need is a soft, rubber-tipped spoon and a bib. If your baby can sit steady enough, a high chair is convenient.
For high chairs, Norwegian design Tripp Trapp is very good, and practically can’t be worn out.
If you want to make you own baby food, some more equipment will come handy. Read about making baby food here.
That was it! You’ll find a lot of tips for feeding your baby solids here and if you run into difficulties, check out all the discussions on feeding babies here.
If you have additional tips for introducing solid baby food, please share them by leaving a comment below.