For a quick reference as to what and how much you should be feeding your baby, scroll down to the bottom of this post for 9 out of the 10 resources for starting solid foods. If you’d like to learn my personal story [aka the 10th resource] as to what worked for me when it came to starting solid foods with both of my boys, read on!
Last summer I wrote a baby feeding series where I took starting solid foods recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading health organizations and applied them to Mr. Joey. Because I’m a year older and much wiser when it comes to feeding babies [or so I think], I’ve decided to do the same sort of starting solid foods series with our Chapter 2, Anthony! Now that Anthony is at the age where he’s ready to eat like a big boy [how the heck did that happen], I’m ready to help him explore the world of eating solid foods! And man is this big boy READY!
How Did I Know Anthony was Ready for Solid Foods?
Anthony has been opening his mouth and reaching for my fork and spoon whenever I was eating for the past few months! Last week I lost my phone and was certain Anthony ate it! From a growth and development side, Anthony was ready for solids around 5 months of age. His weight was on track, he was sitting up with some support, he had great head and neck control, and he was grabbing for toys and objects and pulling them towards his mouth. These signs of readiness can be seen in most babies anywhere from 4-6 months of age. But because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids around 6 months, I decided to hold off until then.
What Do I Feed Anthony?
Anthony’s first food was avocado. Then I gave him some oatmeal, rice cereal, and pureed peas, banana, sweet potato, and apples. I also tried pureed ground beef [which is an excellent source of iron and zinc for babies], which he turned his nose up at but went back for seconds and thirds! I consistently give him the iron-fortified cereal [at least once a day] because he’s a breastfed baby and breastfed babies need more iron in their diets at around 6 months of age. Where it was once thought baby cereal was the best first food, there’s no nutritional advantage to choosing cereal over fruits or veggies. That’s why I went with the avocado!
You might have read or heard that homemade baby food is healthier for your baby. When it comes to making baby food, I say do what works best for you and your family. With Joey, I made all of his food. With Anthony, if you count mashing a ripened fruit homemade, well then I give him homemade fruit. The veggies I usually buy at the store because I haven’t quite found the time to prep our meals, his and Joey’s. Priorities! Plus, there are plenty of great store brand baby foods that he gobbles right up.
How Often Do I Feed Anthony?
Joey and Anthony had a similar schedule when it came to starting solids:
- Wakeup + breastmilk/formula
- Breakfast 1-1.5 hours after
- Breastmilk/Formula after morning nap
- Lunch 1-1.5 hours later
- Breastmilk/Formula after afternoon nap
- Dinner 1-1.5 hours later
- Breastmilk/Formula before bed
- Wakeup at night for breastmilk/formula
Now don’t let me fool you. This isn’t EVERYDAY. Some days are busier than others and Anthony might miss a taste or two of food. And sometimes he nurses more than 4 times a day and more than once at night. But again, we aren’t feeding babies solids because they need a certain amount of calories from solid foods. We are feeding them solids at this age so they can learn to explore, taste, and have fun with new foods and textures! Note: A new eater usually needs 1-2 tablespoons of each food and will gradually increase to 3-4 tablespoons as he gets older. Second note: Anthony doesn’t nap well, so don’t think we have a perfect schedule. We have more of a lax routine.
When Do I Plan on Stopping Purees?
Honestly, at the rate Anthony is going and grabbing at toys, food, whatever and putting it in his mouth, I’m pretty sure I could give him strips and cubes of soft food now. But I’m sticking with purees for a few months and plan on serving soft strips of sweet potato, broccoli, pear, apples, etc. somewhere between 6-8 months of age. And I’ll admit his purees aren’t super smooth (Joey’s weren’t either). If you were to look at my pureed food you’d think it was lumpy or chunky! Some people skip the purees and feed their babies with a method called Baby Led Weaning around 6 months of age. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, but that doesn’t mean the method won’t work for you and your baby. The most important thing to remember when starting and continuing solid foods is that you are helping your baby experience, learn, and explore new foods! If you think Baby Led Weaning might be something you want to try with your baby, read more from colleagues who have used that method below. And always remember to talk to your child’s pediatrician beforehand.
What About Allergenic Foods?
Guess what? The recommendations of when to introduce highly allergenic foods have changed. Now we can introduce 7 of the 8 allergenic foods when we introduce solids, as early as 6 months of age [peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, and wheat]. Research points at the fact that the longer we waited on giving children these highly allergenic foods, the likelihood for them having an allergy was greater. Note: If a history of severe food allergies runs in your family, talk to your primary care provider before introducing allergenic foods. Also, it is safe to introduce cow’s milk based cheese and yogurt before age one, however it is recommended to wait until after age one to introduce cow’s milk. When giving your baby one of these allergenic foods, introduce one food at a time, wait a couple of days and then try another one to watch out for any reactions, which would indicate a sensitivity or allergy. Also, if you do have food allergies in your family, you may want to talk to you pediatrician about when to introduce peanuts, eggs, etc.
When it comes to starting solid foods with my baby here’s what I know: I’m doing my best to offer a variety of foods and textures and flavors, and Anthony is deciding how much or what to eat. Also, the period of pureed foods for babies is over so quickly. So do not stress too much about it. I just don’t want to think about how messy my floor is going to be with two toddlers playing catch with rice and beans or cheese quesadillas! I guess we will know if those games happen in a few months.
Here are some additional resources you might find helpful in starting and serving solid foods to your baby:
Materials from Mom to Mom Nutrition:
Materials on Starting Solids with Purees:
American Academy of Pediatrics Baby Feeding & Nutrition
BabyCenter Age by Age Guide to Feeding Your Baby
Parents.com Complete Guide to Starting Solids
5 Things Every Mom Must Know Before Starting Solids by Raise Healthy Eaters
Materials on Starting Solids with Baby Led Weaning:
Starting Solids: A Mixed Approach by Tribeca Nutrition
How To Modify Baby Led Weaning by The Lean Green Bean
FAQ About Baby Led Weaning by In Wealth and Health
5 Tips for Successful Baby Led Weaning by Sarah Remmer RD