Introducing solid food into your baby’s diet can be very overwhelming and intimidating but it’s doesn’t have to be! There are lots of easy tips for introducing solids to baby and it’s possible to actually enjoy the process of feeding baby solid foods!
While we look forward to the day when
The beginning of independence truly starts when the weaning process begins and introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet is the first step in that process.
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Easy Tips for Introducing Solids to Baby: Know When Baby is Ready
As a first time mom I remember feeling SO eager to get my son started on solids. The more babies I had, the less eager I was to start them. Not only is it a big milestone for baby, and can be a big emotional one for Mommy too, but feeding your baby solid food is also a lot more work on mom too!
Feeding baby solid foods is one of those things that I, for sure, got less stressed about with the more babies I had!
When considering when to start introducing solids to baby it’s important to keep in mind that the liquid portion of your baby’s diet (breastmilk or formula) remains THE most important and healthy part of their diet until after their 1st birthday.
Make the following your mantra when it comes to baby eating solid food:
“Solid food is truly just for FUN until age ONE!“
Recommendations often change regarding the best age to begin solids, but waiting until six months is the most typical “best age.”
At six months old babies can usually sit well unsupported and are developmentally ready to begin digesting, eating, and exploring solid foods.
The most important thing for ensuring your baby is ready for eating solids is that they are able to sit up straight in a high chair.
Leaning back or slouching down are not safe positions for baby to eat and can often lead to choking concerns.
Often parents are tempted to start their baby on eating solid foods before the baby is actually ready. If baby goes through a stage of sleep disruption where baby is waking in the night or not sleeping fully for naps parents may think “maybe my baby needs solids.”
But again, solid food is just for fun until age one. If your baby is hungry, he or she may need more liquid diet not solids. Maybe it’s a growth spurt or a developmental wonder week leap or maybe they are experiencing the four-month sleep regression (which is SUPER common and I explain more and offer helpful tips here!)
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Easy Tips for Introducing Solids to Baby: Decide How to Start
There are many options for HOW to introduce your baby to the world of solids.
Some moms like the traditional spoon-feeding method and enjoy blending their own purees or even buying baby food from the store.
Others, myself included, prefer introducing solids through the method of baby-led weaning.
With baby-led weaning, there are very few items needed in order to start, and many benefits from this technique for introducing solids.
Baby-led weaning may sound complicated by the long name and super fancy hyphen 😉 but truly, it’s a very SIMPLE method for feeding your baby and an easy way to start solids!
I love baby-led weaning because it is simple and easy and helps me not overly obsess about if my baby is “getting enough.” When I went about the process to introduce solid foods as a first-time mom I felt a LOT of stress. I worried constantly if my son was eating enough solid food at each meal.
Spoonfeeding, for me, added to that stress because I could measure how much he was getting. I was physically sitting there feeding him so I knew exactly what he ate and how much of it. I could compare from meal to meal. I over-thought about it. I overanalyzed it. And it just gave me one more thing to add to my “mom guilt” list.
Yes, I know “solid food before 1 is just for FUN!” See now why I needed that mantra? 😉
Baby-led weaning gave me the gift of enjoying mealtimes with my baby and was one of the best parenting decisions I made. I truly love it, all my babies truly loved it, and I now encourage all mamas to give it a try as a way to introduce solid food into your baby’s diet!
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Order for Introducing Baby Food
Whether you decide to introduce baby to the world of solids through purees, traditional baby food, or baby-led weaning it’s still wise to introduce new foods slowly.
Starting solid foods by introducing a vegetable as a first food can help the baby to enjoy the flavor and texture of this health-packed food group.
Fruits are naturally sweeter and once baby tastes the flavors of fruit they are more likely to enjoy them over vegetables.
Even though the risk for food allergies is very low, I still highly recommend spacing out each new food to minimize any potential worry about food allergies.
It’s always wise to go over any questions or concerns with your child’s pediatrician. Food allergy recommendations and guidance are constantly changing. I remember with one of my babies the recommendation was to wait to introduce peanut butter until age two and then when I had another baby the recommendation was to introduce it before a year old!
The American Academy of Pediatrics is frequently making changes to their guidelines so it’s always wise just to ask your child’s doctor as they are usually the most up-to-date and can make the best recommendations for your little one!
Again, don’t overthink it. Keep it simple!
Regardless of the method, you use for feeding baby, by giving 2-3 days between each new food you allow the chance for any sort of allergy signs or symptoms to develop.
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When to Feed Solids
With my first child, it was easy to fit in solid feedings around his schedule.
Ideally, you’d first offer the liquid feeling and then immediately follow the liquid feeding with the solid food at mealtime.
This ensures that the baby is filling up on the important liquid diet! Feeding solids directly following the liquid feeding also helps keep the baby on a schedule and avoid “snacking” throughout the day. It continues the important sleep-wake-eat cycle!
As we added more babies to our family it became more difficult to have that exact order in place.
I would always continue to remind myself that
I’d fit in the solid feeding times whenever I could throughout our day – the most consistent one being during family dinnertime so we could all enjoy a meal together as a family unit.
Baby does NOT need three solid meals a day. Baby does NOT need solids at all until age one. It’s important to shift that mental focus and consider introducing solids to baby as a fun play-time activity.
You have tummy time with baby to help encourage developmental milestones. You do independent playtime to help baby learn independence. Feeding solids is just another opportunity to practice and learn another skill set for your baby!
As you begin starting solid food in the baby’s diet it’s also important to remember not to offer small pieces of food until baby is developmentally ready and has the ability to use the pincher grasp for the small pieces which helps avoid frustration for them in the process.
When using the baby-led weaning method for introducing solids the recommendation is to cut foods into finger foods type sizes to allow baby to easily hold and manipulate the food!
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Fitting Solids into Baby’s Schedule
As you look at your baby’s daily schedule and routine, carve out the time when you’d like to introduce solids. Arranging a baby’s daily routine is a task that is up to the parent to decide and dictate!
Feeding solids is also a wonderful wake time activity with baby that the whole family can enjoy together and is a great opportunity to allow baby to bond with older siblings as well as Dad!
With my babies I like to first introduce solids after the 3rd feeding of the day (mine always fell at 3:00 PM).
I’d nurse or bottle feed and then set them in the high chair and let them explore the solid food for that day.
As we got more into a natural groove and rhythm I’d then offer solid food after their first liquid feeding, second liquid feeding, and during family dinnertime.
As the mealtimes became more regular, I stopped offering the solids at the afternoon liquid feeding and just keep it to those three meals each day.
Once liquid feedings get dropped at around one
Just because this is the way I scheduled my babies solid food feeding times doesn’t mean it’s the best schedule or that it’s the way you must do it either!
Whenever you make any changes to baby’s schedule it’s wise to grab a pen and paper and write out the entire daily routine. Consider the baby’s sleep schedule but also what YOUR day typically looks like too. Find the easiest time for YOU to add in a solid feeding and then try it out!
A great perk to solid feeding not being a “need” until age one is that you can easily adjust things as you go! It can be flexible. Easy. Fun. Even if you have a few busy days in a row and baby skips solids altogether it’s not a big deal or something to stress over!
Seeing Sample Schedules Can Help When Deciding Your Baby’s Daily Routine:
Easy Tips for Introducing Solids to Baby: What About Water?
Baby should avoid drinking water until after they turn 6 months old.
Again, the liquid feedings of breastmilk or formula are enough to fully satisfy both hunger and thirst for your baby until a year old. So JUST like solid food is a “fun thing” until age 1…so is water!
It’s a skill to practice, not a NEED 🙂
Once a baby turns 6 months old it’s wise to begin introducing a sippy cup and practicing drinking from it with water.
This will make the transition from breast or bottle to the sippy cup MUCH smoother when the time comes because the
A simple way to introduce water into your baby’s schedule is to offer a water-filled sippy cup along with each serving of solid food.
When my babies turn six months old I like to START with the water sippy without any solid food.
I like it as an opportunity to introduce sitting in a high chair and feel it’s a way to ease into solids and sippy cups without overwhelming or overstimulating my babies.
I usually spend a couple of weeks practicing sitting in the high chair with the sippy cup of water prior to beginning to introduce any solid food on the high chair tray. I think it really helps make the experience a fun one and keeps it simple for us all!
Going from breast milk or formula to water can be a very drastic difference for a baby. Some take to water right away, just as some have no issues transitioning to milk either, while some may not love the taste or temperature of the water or the process of drinking from a cup and may just continue to prefer the breast or bottle.
It is normal for some babies to balk at this change and it’s okay if it takes time for baby to show any interest in drinking water. I always continue to offer the sippy cup at every meal where baby is sitting in high chair and also begin to bring a cup of water on the go as well.
When it comes to the best sippy cup for baby I have tried THEM ALL and have a for-sure favorite. In fact, I have many “must-haves” when introducing my babies to solid food.
Entering the world of solid food does not have to be stressful!
Keep it simple. Keep the focus on the liquid feedings for the first year.
Work in the mealtimes when it makes sense in your baby’s schedule.
Allow it to be a fun time of exploration and adventure for your baby as they enter the next stage of growing up. Hopefully, these easy tips for introducing solids to baby will help your experience be a smooth one as you enter the world of solid foods with your little one!