The first food babies will have in their lifetime is their mother’s breast milk. And their first meal is normally when they first come out of their womb.
And there is no denying that breast milk helps form a bond between a baby and their mother. Breastfeeding is an intimate act of care between a mom and her baby. So anything that a mother ingests will heavily affect what a baby will consume.
According to the World Health Organization, mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies during their first 6 months. Infants should not ingest any other solids nor liquids during this timeframe. Breastfeeding your child will ensure a safe and healthy development.
And for mothers who can’t lactate, they are not far behind. They can still care for their infants with specialized formula. So whether you breastfeed or use formula, your baby will still grow strong and healthy.
But later on, parents can introduce solid food to their infants. The introduction of different food groups is a major milestone for any parent and child. It’s a gentle process of letting their kid be able to eat and enjoy table food.
Introducing solid food can be very intimidating. Not everything an adult can eat is safe for little tots. Thankfully, parents are no longer in the dark when it comes to food and their infants.
This guide will teach you about introducing solids to your baby. Plus, we have 15 foods your baby should try at least once.
Table of Contents
- When Can I Introduce Solid Food To My Baby?
- How Do I Introduce Solid Food to My Baby?
- How Do I Serve Solid Food to My Baby?
- What To Expect During Mealtime
- Weaning: Is Breast Milk or Formula Off the Table
- 15 Foods Your Baby Should Try
When Can I Introduce Solid Food To My Baby?
As mentioned above, babies should be exclusively breastfed or bottle-fed during their first 6 months. So it’s safe to assume that after they turned 6 months old, they can have more than just breast milk or formula.
While some can have it earlier or later, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that 6 months is the recommended age to introduce solid foods. During this stage, your child’s digestive system is mature enough to handle anything other than breast milk or formula. And within 7 to 8 months, your kid can safely eat a variety of food groups.
But how will you be sure that your child is ready? There are signs that your little one is ready to eat with you at the dinner table. These include:
- Your baby shows interest and curiosity when offered food.
- Your baby can sit down without any support.
- Your baby can hold their head up without any support.
- Your baby seems hungry even after breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
Once you start seeing these signs, you can then consider giving them solid food. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong time when it comes to introducing food groups. The process of presenting new food to your infant is like a marathon, not a sprint.
How Do I Introduce Solid Food to My Baby?
The question is not what food you introduce to your infant. Rather, the question is how you introduce food to your infant. And you do this patiently and gradually.
During the start, you want your baby to get used to chewing and swallowing. Your baby’s main source of nutrients is still breast milk or formula. So don’t rush.
Feed your child one food at a time to see if there are any negative reactions, like allergies. Give them a 3 to 5 days window before introducing another kind of food to them. Pretty soon, you will know what your child can and cannot eat.
Be careful when introducing the 8 most common allergenic foods. These include eggs, soybeans, milk, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, and wheat.
Allergenic foods are better introduced as early as possible. This can help young children build immunity against these foods. However, if allergies do occur, then it’s best to stir away from them. It’s also a good idea to take note of your family’s history of allergies.
It’s also a good idea to establish a routine for mealtime. Teach them at a young age to follow a schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This can help them get into a proper eating schedule before age 1.
How Do I Serve Solid Food to My Baby?
Your little one doesn’t have the ability to chew and swallow hard food when they first start eating. So their food should be soft, easy to chew, and digestible.
Your baby’s first food can be served either mashed, pureed, or strained. Just make sure that the texture is as smooth as possible. Commonly, your child might cough, gag, or spit their food out. They’ll outgrow this once they have adjusted to eating new food with new textures.
You can introduce more food with a thicker and rougher texture as they grow older. At around 9-10 months, your baby develops the pincer grasp. This is the perfect time to introduce finger food to them.
Some foods are best avoided until your infant becomes 1 year and older. For example, honey is a common sweetener that babies can’t have. Honey can cause fatal cases of botulism in infants.
Parents should also stir away from cow’s milk. Babies are sensitive to cow’s milk and dairy products. It can cause digestive problems and can stress other vital organs.
Finally, some foods are choking hazards to young kids. These include nuts, raisins, popcorn, grapes, hard candy, and hard raw veggies.
There are some ways to make food easier to eat, digest, and enjoy. One of the best ways to soften food is by mixing breast milk or formula in it. Not only does it soften the food, but milk can add more nutrients to your baby’s meal.
You can overcook tough food until they are soft and mashable. It’s also safer to cut food in more cylindrical shapes rather than circular. This can help your baby swallow and digest food easier.
Finally, add variety to your child’s plate. Don’t focus on serving just one type of food to your baby. Give your kid a balanced diet of go, grow, and glow food.
What To Expect During Mealtime
A lot of things can happen when introducing solid food to your baby. There are going to be adjustments in both you and your child when going forward. It can be tiring, but it’s going to be worth it in the end.
First, expect some fussiness when introducing new foods. Babies can get very picky when it comes to eating new dishes. So expect a lot of head-shaking and crying when trying out something unfamiliar.
One tip to avoid picky eating is adding herbs and spices into your baby’s food. This is a safe way of making their food more exciting. Mild spices like black pepper, cumin, coriander, curry powder, dill, oregano, and thyme are safe for babies.
Another thing to expect is messes. And we mean a LOT of messes.
Babies can spit, play, and throw their food when they first start eating. It’s why videos like these exist on the Internet. It’s not always because your baby does not like the food. Rather, they have simply not yet grasped the idea of table manners.
On the plus side, mealtimes are also great bonding times for parents and children. Parents can play or educate their kids while eating food. It’s also a good idea to sit your kids down while you eat as well. This will instill family values at a young age.
Finally, understand that problems can arise when feeding children solid food. Expect some allergies to come when trying to feed them allergenic foods. A lot of doctors recommend parents stop feeding their children a certain food when allergies come.
Weaning: Is Breast Milk or Formula Off the Table
A lot of the macronutrients that your baby needs come from breast milk or formula. That’s why it’s highly recommended that parents continue to breastfeed or formula feed their baby.
But is there a supposed time limit to stopping breastfeeding and bottle-feeding? The answer always lies in the parent. It’s your decision on when you want your baby to stop breastfeeding or formula feeding.
Some parents choose to wean their children when they start eating solid food. Others can continue breastfeeding until the baby turns 1, 2, or 3 (sometimes even beyond.)
Major health organizations have a consensus that breastfeeding and formula feeding is important for babies under 1 year. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Family Physician (AAFP) encourages breastfeeding for 2 or more years.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice if you want to continue breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your child. While solid food is nutritious, nothing can beat breastmilk or formula. And weaning should be a gentle and time process that feels mutual to both parent and child.
15 Foods Your Baby Should Try
Now we are getting into the meat of this article! There are a lot of foods that are baby-friendly and safe for your little tot. And best of all, they can be a tasty meal for both of you.
We tried to look for the safest food for your little one that is easy to come by and easy to prepare. Some of these can cause allergies, so be wary. Without further ado, here are 15 foods your baby should try:
1 Soft Fruit, Such as Bananas, Peaches, Etc.
Fruits are not only sweet and tasty, but they are healthy too. Plenty of fruits deliver vitamins and minerals while also satisfying your sweet tooth. Your baby will surely enjoy the fruity taste fruits have to offer.
Introduce fruits slowly to them by serving soft fruits like bananas, mangoes, or peaches. These fruits are great for children who have developed their pincer grasp. Make sure to cut each fruit slices as thinly as possible.
You can also mash them, blend them or freeze them. Fruits are also great when served together in a salad. Overall, you can do a lot of great things with fruits.
Similar to fruits, berries are also sweet and healthy. Colorful berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are great for babies. And these superfoods pack a lot of nutrients that are hard to beat.
Serve berries by cutting them into easy-to-eat slices. You can also puree them, blend them, or use them as a spread. Berries are as tasty as they look.
Babies are not known for their strong jaws and chewing abilities. So you want to keep their food as soft as possible. Fortunately, oatmeal is soft, mushy, and easy to eat.
Oatmeal is also full of fiber that can help keep your baby’s guts healthy. Oatmeal is also filled with protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fat.
The best kind of oatmeal is the homemade kind. You can use breast milk or formula to soften your baby’s food. And don’t shy away from using some spices. They can make oatmeal taste a lot more exciting.
Salmon is one of the healthiest fish under the sea. It’s rich in DHA, a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that can help in brain development. DHA is perfect for any baby’s development.
You can feed your baby salmon if you know that they are not allergic to fish. Salmon is great when mashed or turned into flakes. You can also make salmon nuggets or salmon puree.
5 Leafy Greens, Such as Spinach, Chard, and Kale
We know that leafy greens are not the tastiest. But there is no doubt that they are packed to the brim with nutrients. And leafy greens are great at making kids more adventurous eaters.
Babies won’t immediately like the smell or taste of leafy greens. But don’t give up so easily. Instead, incorporate leafy greens in other more favorable food. Your little one will later learn to appreciate the goodness of greens.
Beef might seem a little tough to eat. But with proper cooking and softening, you can serve some meaty goodness to your baby.
Beef is full of protein and zinc. This can help make your baby grow bigger and stronger. Serve beef alongside veggies or grains to balance the flavor and texture.
Eggs are known as an allergy-causing food. However, you can curb the allergies by introducing eggs very early to your baby. And there is a good reason why eggs are so good (asides from being tasty.)
Eggs are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and choline. They are also easy to prepare for your baby. You can boil, scramble, or omelet eggs.
Eggs are a great meal for your baby to enjoy. Just watch out for allergic reactions!
8 Poultry, Such as Chicken and Turkey
Another meat product that you can introduce to your baby is poultry. Chicken and turkey are generally healthy and very delicious. They are also filled with protein.
Start by serving puree chicken or turkey. Once your child has grown used to meat, you can serve them in bite-size pieces. Seasoning them liberally will also make them more fun to eat.
Vegetables like beans, carrots, and broccoli are amazing foods to give to your baby. They are filled with nutrients and antioxidants that can keep our baby always radiant.
You can serve these vegetables steamed or mash. They work best as a side dish to other meals or as a stand-alone dish. Don’t forget to add some herbs and spices to bring out the flavor.
You can also serve them as finger foods when your baby turns older. Chop them into diagonal, bite-size pieces. Your baby can gnaw on them to develop their teeth.
10 Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is creamy, sweet, and easy to eat. You can spread peanut butter on toast or use peanut butter as a dip. Just don’t put too much, or it will be a choking hazard.
We highly recommend making homemade peanut butter. Not only is it cheaper, but you can control the fat, sodium, and sugar level. Plus, it can be a good spread for baby and you.
11 Onion and Garlic
We don’t necessarily mean feeding them a whole onion or garlic. Instead, incorporate onion and garlic in your child’s food.
Both of these spices can give your food an amazing smell and taste. They are also nutritious in their own way. So don’t shy away when adding them to your baby’s meal.
12 Whole Grains
The most common cereal that is fed to babies is rice cereal. But rice cereal is not only bland but is also filled with heavy metals like arsenic.
Instead of rice cereal, use whole grains such as oats, quinoa, or brown rice. These grains are a better source of carbohydrates and fiber. Plus, they are more flavorful.
Squash is a popular choice for a baby’s first meal. It’s often mashed into a puree and served by itself or with another food.
Squash is so versatile and beloved by many kids. Not only is it sweet, but it is also loaded with vitamin A. You can also make squash into other food, such as soup.
Avocado is a fruit that can either be served savory or sweet. Its soft texture means that it is easy to eat, swallow, and digest. Not to mention that avocado is rich in healthy fat that is good for the heart and brain.
You can mash some avocado and serve them on toast or crackers. Pureed avocado with milk is also a tasty option. You can also mix avocado with other soft vegetables, like squash or sweet potatoes.
15 Dairy Products, Such as Milk and Yogurt
Finally, when your child is at least a year old, you can introduce dairy products to them. Dairy is a good source of protein and calcium, which can help strengthen the bones and teeth. You can slowly introduce dairy by trying out products like yogurt and cow’s milk.
Just be careful of allergies. It’s best to consult your pediatrician when trying to give dairy products to young children. And make sure not to rush when introducing new foods to them.
Babies rely on breastmilk or formula during their formative years. Breastmilk and formula provide all the necessary nutrients that a baby needs. But babies can’t rely on breastmilk or formula forever.
That’s when parents can start introducing solid food. Solid food comes into the picture when a baby turns 6 months or older. Parents can start experimenting with which food their children can or cannot eat.
Finding the right food can be tricky. Some can cause allergies that can gravely affect a baby. However, most foods are safe for consumption.
Babies need a good balance between go, grow, and glow food. It’s a good idea for parents to try to feed their baby at least one food from every major food group. There is no right or wrong order in introducing certain foods to babies.
Some might think that breast milk or formula is no longer necessary during this stage. However, parents can still breastfeed or bottle-feed their baby during this time. It’s up to the parents to decide on what time they want their baby to stop breast or bottle-feeding.
There are a lot of foods to try out there and a lot of ways to prepare them. Some of the best foods to give your baby are fruits, vegetables, certain meat, and whole grain.
We highly recommend you make your baby’s food rather than buying from the store. Homemade food is arguably less expensive and more nutritious. You also get to avoid food filled with sodium and sugar.
Feeding your baby solid food for the first time is a big milestone. From this point on, you can expect your child to eat more diverse and delicious food. Just make sure that you always pick the best and healthiest kind.