There is so much information out there about introducing your baby to solid food! It can get really confusing, really fast! But starting solids doesn’t have to be complicated! I am here to break it down for you by covering when (6 months), and how (baby-led weaning, homemade or storebought) as well as give you some tips on things to avoid. I even have a nifty FREE Solid Food Introduction Checklist You can download! Scroll the bottom of the page to grab it!
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When should I start my baby on solids?
Most things you read will suggest introducing solid food between 4-6 months of age. My daughter’s pediatrician recommended sticking to 6 months. There are a plethora of reasons why you should wait until 6 months. Kellymom.com does a fantastic job explaining all the reasons to stick to 6 months. Read the article here.
Basically, several major health organizations recommend waiting until 6 months including WHO, AAP, and UNICEF.
There are several reasons for this recommendation, mainly to protect your baby from illness and to wait until your baby’s digestive system has fully matured. You can protect your baby from illness by exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life so that she gets all the immunities from breastmilk possible which reduces the chances of getting many illnesses.
In addition, waiting until your baby’s digestive fully matures will allow baby to readily digest solids that you introduce starting at 6 months. Before the 6 month mark, your baby has what is referred to as “open gut” which is when the space between cells of the small intestines allows whole proteins and pathogens into the bloodstream which can then lead to a predisposition towards allergies.
Because of these recommendations, I think it is advisable to wait until 6 months to start introducing your child to solids. But as always consult with your child’s pediatrician to make the decision that is right for your baby.
Other milestones to consider before starting solids include
- Sitting up unassisted
- being able to hold her head up while sitting
- your baby opens his mouth when food comes near
How do I even go about starting my baby on solids?
This can feel really overwhelming. At this point, you need to start planning how you are going to introduce solids.
Are you going to go for the Baby Led Weaning Approach, homemade baby food or store bought ready-made baby food? I did some pretty extensive research when trying to decide how I was going to feed my daughter. There are two resources I highly recommend.
First, The Big Book of Organic Baby Food by Stephanie Middleberg who is even a registered dietician! She makes the idea of homemade baby food seem easy, simple and fun! I love this book! She gives tons of ideas on how to prepare food including adding spices to your little one’s purees to help encourage an adventurous palate!
Second, I recommend The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook by Gill Raplet and Tracey Murkett. This book explains the rationale behind baby led weaning and provides tons of different recipes to start your baby on! The basic premise of baby led weaning is that you will not be feeding your child any purees! You will be providing whole nutritious foods that the rest of your family will eat and allow your baby to taste, touch, smell and eventually learn how to eat. Don’t be intimidated! The authors go into great depth on how and what to serve your baby!
Lastly, I recommend my own baby food cookbook! I researched and wrote 32 recipes for food introduction! This includes a wide variety of introduction schedules so that you can make an informed decision about what to introduce and when! See more here!
There is also the option to buy ready prepared baby food. If you choose to go this route, no guilt! Just be sure to do your research and to carefully read labels!
So which method of homemade is best? Baby-led weaning or homemade organic baby food?
I, in all honesty, used a blend of both! In the early days, I did tend to lean more towards making my own baby food purees. I liked the idea of Baby-Led Weaning in its essence but I was very worried about choking. But as I got more comfortable with my daughter’s ability to chew and swallow I started adding in more of the baby-led weaning foods.
Are there any foods I should avoid?
There are a few things you need to avoid when starting your baby out on solids. The list includes honey, cow’s milk, caffeine, salt, added sugar, and potential choking hazards.
Honey: Honey should be avoided in infants for the entire first year of life. Honey can contain a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum which can cause infant botulism, a very dangerous condition that, while rare, can be fatal in infants. This bacterium can only be killed through boiling so you should even avoid giving your baby baked goods that have honey as one of the ingredients. After your baby is over a year old his digestive system will be developed enough to be able to handle eating honey.
Cow’s Milk: Cow’s milk should be avoided for the first year of life because it is hard on their immature kidneys. However, it is fine to give your child yogurt and cheese before they reach a year old.
Caffeine: Caffeine can interfere with bone strengthening and cause jitteriness, headaches, and upset stomach. It’s best to just completely avoid caffeinated beverages of all types.
Too much added sugar: Just as with adults, too much sugar leads to increase the risk of tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes. It’s best to limit your baby’s sugar intake as well as your own!
Salt: Too much salt is hard on a baby’s kidneys. Your baby will get any sodium he or she needs from breastmilk or formula.
Potential Choking Hazards: This goes without saying, but be careful of items like grapes, nuts, and other pieces of food that your child won’t be able to easily mash in his or her little toothless mouth. Also be aware of sticky items like nut butter as globs can get stuck in your baby’s throat.
Wondering What you need to buy? Read my Starting Stage 1 Solids Product Guide!
If you are ready to start making your own Stage One Baby Foods read my post here!
Get my free Introducing Solids Checklist!
Is it Time for Solid Foods?
You have the go-ahead from your baby’s doctor and you are ready to start whipping up baby food!
Do you feel overwhelmed?
This step by step guide provides the answers you are looking for all in one convenient place!
I provide recipes and introduction schedules so that you don’t have to spend extra mental energy trying to figure out what and when!
Choose from 3 different introduction schedules including
- introduction based on flavor profile: gentle flavors that will be easy on baby’s tummy and taste buds
- Introduction Schedule based on season: So that you can shop at local farmers markets or from your own garden
- Custom Introduction Schedule: You choose, when and what!