MS, RDN, CDN
Allison is a registered dietitian who holds a Master’s in Nutrition and Physical Fitness. She also loves helping families get creative with their wellness choices.
Starting solids is an exciting milestone and huge transition in your baby’s first year. When your baby seems ready (for most babies, at around six months), it’s important to let her lead the way with food. Allow her to decide how much and even whether she wants to eat. Keep in mind that erratic eating patterns are perfectly normal. Just like you, your baby may be very hungry one day and less hungry the next. By being mindful of your baby’s hunger and fullness cues, you’ll both learn together. Check out our Infant Nutrition: Starting Solids Chart!
Getting Started Any new skill can be frustrating to learn, and eating solid foods is no different. To minimize the challenges, offer your child food when she is hungry, but not ravenous. Your baby’s signs for hunger may include:
Start by offering a small amount of food one to two times per day. It is perfectly normal for your baby to push food out of her mouth while she is learning to handle solids. Remember, your initial goal is to introduce your baby to the new tastes and textures of solid foods. Rest assured, even if she doesn’t do much eating, breastmilk or formula (or a combination) will continue to provide your baby with all of the essential nutrients she needs for the first year of life. Introduce one “single-ingredient” at a time from any food group and wait 2-3 days before introducing a new one. This would allow you to observe for any allergies or intolerances. Consistently exposing your child to a wide variety of healthy, whole foods is key in expanding your baby’s palate. Focus on introducing lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains without worrying so much about the order of the introduction. Babies do naturally like sweet tastes, so letting her experience the real, sometimes bitter taste of vegetables will help her accept them. And if she doesn’t like something at first, don’t worry. Keep offering the food or try preparing it in different ways (sautéed, steamed, roasted or raw) to learn your baby’s preferences. It can sometimes take upwards of 20 tries for a child to accept and enjoy new, unfamiliar foods and flavors, so stick with it! Ideas for First Foods Research shows that the first months of solid food eating is the best window of opportunity to get a child to eat new, healthy foods. Here are some ideas to try (no need to add salt or sugar!):
Advancing Textures Your baby will gradually start eating food more frequently and in greater quantities, eventually eating approximately three meals and two snacks per day. To help you get there, make sure to introduce varied textures of foods. Research shows that waiting beyond nine months to progress to lumpier foods may lead to selective eating and even rejection of alternative food consistencies. So, if you begin feeding your baby purees, be sure to advance to a lumpier consistency once your baby becomes comfortable. When your baby has mastered thick and lumpy purees, move on to finger foods of various consistencies and sizes. By the end of your child’s first year she will most likely be able to sit at the family table and feed herself soft finger foods. Examples of advancing textures include:
Knowing When To Take a Break Just as you learned your baby’s signs for hunger, be mindful of her cues for fullness. Look for these signals to learn when your baby is all done:
Foods to Avoid Avoid feeding your baby these specific foods in the first year:
The Ellyn Satter Institute, Ellyn Satter Starting Solid Foods, American Academy of Pediatrics / HealthyChildren.org Introducing Solid Foods to Toddlers, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics