Below is a guide for what to feed your baby. For a printable version, click here
Is your baby ready to start solid foods?
Typically, babies are ready for solid foods when they double their birth weight, which is usually around 4-6 months old. The AAP recommends delaying starting solids until 6 months old. Also, look for developmental signs that he is ready for solid food:
- Can he hold his head up?
- Does he have interest in food – opens his mouth when food comes his way? Reach for your food?
- Can he move food from a spoon? If you open a spoonful of cereal, and he pushes it out of this mouth, he may not have the ability to swallow it yet. That’s ok. Remember he hasn’t had anything thicker than breastmilk or formula before. It takes practice. You may want to wait a week or two and try again.
Tips for starting foods
- Keep it simple
You want to start with single ingredient foods. Foods that are made for babies. If you want to make your own food, puree simple fruits and vegetables and mix with formula or breastmilk.
- Doesn’t matter what are the first foods
Traditionally, single grain cereals are introduced first. This is because its easy to mix with formula and breastmilk and offer from a spoon. It’s simple and gentle on their stomach. But there is no medical evidence that you must introduce solid foods in a certain order.
- Introduce one new food at a time
When starting a new food, wait 4 days before offering a new food. This allows you to watch for any reactions or allergies to the new food.
- Start small
Start with small amounts of foods. A tablespoon of cereal mixed with formula and breastmilk is the best way to start. Unless guided by your pediatrician, do not add cereal to the bottle. Feed it to them from a spoon.
- Look for cues they are done
If baby is crying, pushing lips together, turning head away, then they are finished. Continue the feeding with breastmilk or formula. Remember, learning to eat solid foods is a gradual process. They are complimentary and most of their nutrition comes from breastmilk and formula.
When can my baby try new foods?
Once they have learned to eat one food, gradually add in additional foods. Give one new food at a time. There is no evidence that waiting to introduce baby-safe (soft), allergy-causing foods like eggs, dairy, peanut, or fish beyond the 4-6-month age prevents allergy.
If you believe your baby has an allergic reaction (like diarrhea, rash, or vomiting), stop feeding them this food and talk your pediatrician about this. Unless your child has a history of severe eczema, it is ok to feed your baby peanut butter after you have introduced other complimentary foods. Try even mixing it with bananas or apples!
Within a few months of starting solid foods, your baby’s diet should be a variety of foods like breast milk, formula, cereals, vegetables, fruits, even eggs and fish.
Initially around 6 months old you will feed your baby just once a day and gradually increase to twice a day. A good goal is about 2-4 tablespoons at each meal. Around a year old they have more structured breakfast, lunch, dinner schedule and portions are about the size of baby’s fist.
When can you start finger foods?
Once baby is sitting up, putting objects to mouth, you can introduce soft foods. Foods that are easy to swallow and chew without teeth are the best. Some ideas include bananas, scrambled eggs, well-cooked pasta, finely chopped chicken, steamed vegetables.
What should my baby NOT have?
No Honey until after 1 year of age. It can cause infant botulism
- Cow’s milk
No cow’s milk until 1 year of age. It is ok to introduce other cow’s milk things like cheese and yogurt.
- Nuts, Popcorn, Whole Grapes
These are choking hazards. You can cut the grapes, but avoid the others all together.
When to start a sippy cup?
When baby is feeding himself, it is time to introduce drinking from a cup. In the beginning fill the cup with water or breastmil/formula and offer it at one meal a day.
Usually babies are ready around 8-9 months old. Remember, water and formula/breastmilk only until one year of age. After a year of age, it is time to introduce whole milk. Babies don’t need any juice.
Start healthy habits young
Encourage family meals from the first feeding. When possible, the whole family should sit down for a meal together. Having dinner together, as a family, on regular basis as a positive effect on the development of children.
Remember to offer a good variety of healthy foods. Watch for cues of when they are finished and encourage good portions early. At a year of age, babies should be eating all solid table foods and work on feeding them what you are eating!