Starting your baby on solid foods can be exciting—but it can also come with a lot of questions and uncertainties. At PUSH, we want to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the process of solid food introduction. Here are some important aspects to consider in the process of starting your baby on solids.
When should solid foods be started?
For most children, it’s recommended to start solid foods at around 6 months of age. Your baby will have increased nutrition needs at this time, so it’s important to start feeding solids in addition to breastmilk or formula. Typically, 6 months is a safe age to introduce solids as most children have developed their gag reflex by now, which is important in reducing the risk of choking.
Every child is unique in their development, however, so it’s important to watch for signs that your baby is ready for solidsincluding:
Being able to hold their head up steadily
Being able to sit upright and lean forward
Opening their mouth and trying to reach for foods
Being able to turn their head away
What foods should be introduced first?
Now that your baby is ready for solids, it’s time to think about which foods to start introducing. It’s important to start off by offering iron-rich foods.
During pregnancy, your baby builds iron stores to support their needs during the first 6 months of life. At 6 months, these iron stores start to deplete. Around the same time, your baby’s daily iron requirements significantly increase. As breastmilk is not a significant source of iron, it’s important to add in iron-rich foods to help meet their needs. Some examples of these include:
Iron-fortified infant cereals
Cooked meat, chicken, and fish
What textures should I start introducing?
For solid food introduction, you may think you should either take a more traditional approach with purees, or a baby-led weaning approach by jumping to solids. For most babies, we encourage a “middle ground approach” where you offer your baby a wide variety of textures, including both purees and softer foods.
This helps increase your baby’s exposure and helps you start to learn their preferences. Keep in mind that every baby is different. You may notice that they prefer certain textures over others—and it’s okay to take their lead on the textures you offer! It’s also important to consider your comfort as a parent, as well as what family meal times look like.
Are there any foods I should avoid introducing?
There are some foods to avoid with food introduction:
Certain foods may cause a higher risk of choking for your baby, including whole nuts, dried fruits, whole grapes, and very firm fruits and vegetables
Avoid offering cow’s milk until 9 months of age so it does not decrease your baby’s consumption of breastmilk or formula
Avoid honey until after 1 year of age due to the risk of foodborne illness
Keep in mind that, up until 1 year old, your baby will still receive most of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula. So try not to feel too much pressure wondering if your baby is getting everything they need from their food. This will help make the process much more enjoyable for your entire family!