A Solid Start: Introducing Baby to Solid Foods
Everything you need to know to begin your child on baby foods and other solids.
Feeding Baby Solids: What Foods to Start With
A common first baby food is a single-grain, iron-fortified cereal such as rice cereal or oatmeal. These baby cereals have the advantage of boosting your baby’s iron intake, and they’re easy to digest. Just mix with a little baby formula, breast milk, or even water on occasion.
In addition to baby cereal, you can start your baby out with pureed fruits and vegetables. What kind? It doesn’t matter that much, as long as you offer a variety, says Shu. Options include carrots, pears, prunes, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, peaches, and much more. You can either buy premade baby food or make your own.
“Both of my babies didn’t much care for the cereals and vastly preferred applesauce, which was the other solid food I offered early,” says Cynthia Schames, the mother of 8-month-old twins in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Some parents think that you should offer fruit before vegetables so the baby doesn’t reject the veggies for the sweeter fruits, but that’s not how it works. “All babies have a preference for sweet tastes,” Shu says. “You just have to keep giving them both fruits and vegetables.”
The Big Day: Strategies for Introducing Solid Foods
When you offer baby that first taste of something other than breast milk or formula, it’s a huge event. To increase the likelihood of success, offer the first solids when baby isn’t full (if she's not hungry, she won’t be interested) or ravenous (she’ll be frustrated that she’s not getting as much as she wants right away). Instead, fill her up a little with liquid and then let her have a taste.
Other than that, it doesn’t matter too much whether solid or liquid comes first in the meal, say many experts. “Some parents like to offer the bottle or breast at the end of the meal because of the comfort factor, especially if naptime or bedtime is coming soon,” says Steven Parker, MD, director of the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. “But it doesn’t really matter which comes first.”
“Early on, I always nursed first until my son was pretty much done and then offered the solids as ‘dessert,’” recalls Radtke.
As with all new experiences, it’s also best not to spring solid foods on your baby when she’s tired, cranky, or sick. Offering a new food in the morning or early afternoon also gives you plenty of time to watch for allergic reactions.
What if your baby rejects the new food? Don’t worry, says Shu. “Try again later. You might want to wait a few days until your baby has forgotten the experience. It’s not so much that they hate the food -- it’s just that it’s unfamiliar to them.”