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A Solid Start: Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Everything you need to know to begin your child on baby foods and other solids.

Baby Feeding Gear: The 3 Essentials

The feeding aisle at your local baby store is crammed with gear, but you don’t need that much to feed a baby. Small, soft-tipped spoons are best, says Shu, because they’re gentle on baby’s gums. (Some manufacturers now make spoons that are heat-sensitive, changing color if baby’s food is too hot.)

Other than that, you’ll want:

  • A high chair or other secure seat that holds your baby upright to eat
  • Plastic or other waterproof bibs, which are easy to rinse off  (those with a big trough at the bottom are particularly handy to catch falling bits when baby starts feeding herself)
  • Unbreakable plates and bowls that won’t shatter when they’re knocked off the high chair tray


Feeding Baby Solid Foods: When to Move On

Once your baby has gotten used to her first solid food, she can begin to move on to more exciting options. As babies develop more teeth and chewing skills, you can offer them foods with more texture: Instead of pureeing veggies and fruits, try giving them in mashed-up form.

There’s no hard and fast age rule for when this happens -- just watch your baby. Although some babies get teeth at 6 months (or even earlier), and some don’t get them until nearly a year, their hard, sharp gums can often mash food very efficiently.

Each time you introduce a new solid food, wait about three days to see if it causes an allergic reaction. Don’t introduce anything new during that time; this way, if your baby develops hives, a rash, or a more serious reaction, you’ll know which food caused it.

“Once you start introducing a host of foods to your baby, you can have a lot of fun mixing them,” says Myra Bartalos, the mother of a 20-month-old girl in Brooklyn, N.Y.

If your baby has moved past purees, she can also begin to try other table foods, such as meats and poultry, eggs, dairy products, and beans. Just cut or mash the food into a size and consistency that she can chew or gum (when in doubt, make the pieces a little smaller than you think necessary), and feed away.

“Really, anything that you can put in baby’s mouth, if it’s nutritious and they won’t choke on it, is okay,” says Rachel Lewis, MD, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

If your baby doesn’t like a particular food, don’t give up on it. “It often takes a child a dozen or more times of being offered a food to decide that he likes it,” says Shu.

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