This post is based on personal experience and not to be taken as medical advice. Consult with your doctor when making medical decisions.
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Introducing solids is such a big step for our kids.
It can also be a bit overwhelming as parents.
We worry about food allergies and if they’ll figure out how to eat. Whether we’re choosing the right baby food and if we’re doing it right.
Should we be following baby led weaning or jumping straight to solid foods from the table?
Having a baby, there are always in periods of “massive transition.”
This one, however, has happened much quicker for us than I expected. Our first son started solids around 4 months old and has been eating like a champ ever since.
I swear, our kid eats like a teenager.
Our second son is just starting his journey with new foods.
Introducing Solids: When to make the introduction to “People Food”
Our first son first began showing signs of starting solids at approximately 4 months, at which point our pediatrician gave us the green light to start introducing pureed baby food.
How did he show signs of interest?
He was constantly smacking his lips when we ate in front of him!
4 Months Old – First foods
When we first began introducing these solids, we would make sure to provide our kids with 1-ingredient purees. For example, one of these foods was butternut squash pureed with water.
If we gave our kid food two days in a row (which we rarely did at that time), it was always the same food he had tried previously.
This is important because you want to be able to watch for reactions – both for food allergies as well as your baby’s personal preference.
Also, keep in mind that this is the first time your child is experiencing something other than milk or formula.
When you’re introducing solids to your baby, remember to be patient and don’t assume that just because they don’t show any interest in a particular food it means that they don’t like it.
Try keeping track of what your baby has tried and whether or not they’ve appeared to like or dislike it each time. And give them a couple of chances to try it before deciding your kid doesn’t like something! They may just be taking a while to get used to and will end up really appreciating it.
If you decide to take on baby led weaning, however, you’d likely skip purees entirely.
6 Months Old – Baby led weaning
At about 6 months our pediatric doctor recommended moving away from pureed baby food and feeding him tiny pea-sized pieces of our table food instead.
Talk about a major milestone for his development! No more baby food?
During the 6 month appointment our pediatrician told us that the goal for our our son at 9 months would be that he would be having 3 meals a day. Specifically, eating our meals with him so that our baby could follow our lead.
In anticipation of this, between 6 and 9 months, we ramped up the number of times we offered him solids every week. We really tried to be sure to offer them at least once a day.
As with the purees, we initially focused on giving him one new item at a time. As we were expanding his palette though, we often combined that new food with foods he had already proved to handle well and by keeping track of his preferences the first couple of times.
Instead of using an app to track this information, I made this baby food tracker (which you can grab below for free)!
9 Month Old
By Little Man’s 9 month appointment, he was eating like a pro.
Our pediatrician reiterated how important it was for him to be getting 3 meals a day, which our son has been thrilled with (he LOVES TO EAT).
The major difficulty with this has been making sure he has food to take to daycare.
Part of this is making sure he’s getting breakfast and lunch fed to him there (which is something to keep in mind when picking a provider).
Since he isn’t eating baby food, it means that we make dinner as soon as we get home from work and eat as a family.
The nice thing about this is that we didn’t need to use any particular recipes, just sharing the same food we have at our own meal.
He’s eating the same exact things as mom and dad. Starting solids by eating what we’re eating is supposed to help him to develop healthy eating habits in life as he continues to grow up.
Once he got more adept at feeding himself and we had not had any sign of allergens, we didn’t keep track of his food as closely as we did when we first began introducing new foods.
If your child has demonstrated any history of having an allergy, it is recommended that you communicate with your child’s doctor and continue to use this free pdf baby food tracker or an app. That way you can continue to track your baby’s reaction.
Some Tips On Starting Solids
Stay away from hard foods such as uncooked carrots, apples, nuts, and things of that nature.
Keep foods small. Cut the foods you’re offering to feed your baby in pea sized chunks or smaller. The larger the food, the greater the risk of choking. Round items like grapes can be lodged in your child’s throat and block their airway, so it is essential to cut them into manageable sizes.
Try a variety of foods. Introducing your child to a variety of foods early on has proven to decrease pickiness and risk of obesity.
Your kid will be particularly interested in foods he/she sees you eating, so try making meal time a family activity.
Don’t give up after trying a food once.
Remember, your baby is having food for the first time. It’s exciting, but also a lot to process. Keep track of how many times your baby tries something and whether they’re interest in it before deciding if your baby does or doesn’t like something.
Also, use utensils that will fit their mouth easily. And if you’re going to let them manage their own plates, you may want to consider bowls and plates that have suction in order to keep them attached to your table or high chair.
My baby is 4 months old, should he be starting solids?
It’s great if your baby is showing some interest in starting solids at 4 months, but there’s no need to stress if he isn’t. Babies show interest in branching into the world of eating solids at their own pace. You can give him the option occasionally in order to gauge his interest. If he’s not interested yet, that’s perfectly normal. Either way, formula or breast milk should still be your baby’s primary source of nutrients.
My baby is starting solids, but he doesn’t seem to like certain foods. How many attempts should I give each food?
Don’t assume your baby isn’t interested in a food just because he makes a face or throws the food the first time. You should give your baby a food at least 3-5 times before you decide if they’re declaring a preference. The obvious exception is if your child shows signs of an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that everything is new to them, so food in general takes some getting-used-to for them!
When my baby starts solids that aren’t pureed, how big should I be cutting his food?
Initially, foods should be cut up so they’re no larger than the size of a pea. Be particularly careful with round items like grapes and hotdogs, making sure to cut them into quarters so that they don’t block your child’s windpipe.
What foods should I avoid giving to my baby?
Stay away from anything that requires too much force to chew. Avoid things like uncooked carrots, apples, nuts, and things of that nature.
Why should I eat meals at the same time as my baby?
Babies learn through observation! If they grow up watching you eat healthy foods, it helps them to learn to make healthy choices and to be less picky.