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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.

Finger Foods and Self-feeding

When can your baby try feeding herself with finger foods, like o-shaped whole-grain cereals or cereal puffs, cut-up pieces of cheese, small chunks of banana, or sliced-up cooked pasta? The answer really depends on how much mess you’re willing to tolerate.

Sometime between about 9 and 11 months, most babies develop the “pincer grip,” which allows them to pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger. That’s when self-feeding becomes really satisfying. They can try finger foods before that, but they’ll mostly just sweep them up in their palm and try to shove them into their mouth that way.

As your baby gets older, she’ll probably want to start trying her hand with a spoon. Expect some mess, and let her go. Shu says a good way to start is to give baby a small soft-tipped spoon to hold while you’re feeding her. It lets her practice handling a utensil while keeping her from yanking the spoon from your hand.

Another tip: Try putting a dab of something thick, such as cream cheese, on the baby spoon and sticking a few pieces of o-shaped cereal to it. Baby can try feeding herself with something that’s less likely to fly off the spoon and land on the walls.

Babies and Solid Foods: How Much Is Enough?

Many parents worry that they may be feeding their baby too much solid food, or not enough. You’ve just gotten the hang of tracking your baby’s needs for breast milk or baby formula -- and now you have to balance that with solids? Fortunately, it’s a lot less complicated than you think.

When you first start out, introduce solid foods once daily -- or even every couple of days if your baby seems reluctant at first. At these feedings, your child may only take in a spoonful or two of rice cereal, mashed banana, or pureed sweet potato. But she’ll soon work her way up!

At about 6 months, most babies are getting between 24 and 32 ounces of formula or breast milk a day. By about a year, that amount will go down to 16 to 24 ounces, and they’ll be getting the rest of their nutrition from solid foods. Generally, by around 8 or 9 months, babies will be eating three “solid” meals a day. How they make the transition is very individual.

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