Introducing solids to a baby can feel like an intimidating task for a first-time mom, or any mom or caregiver. It’s a process that takes time, but it’s so important to the overall health of baby and it can be fun! Some of my favorite memories are watching my sweet babies take that first bite…the funny expressions, the smiles, the lunging towards the spoon,…it all makes me so happy to see them reach this milestone. After going through this with five babies, I’ve adapted my approach and I’m sharing my five tips on how to introduce solids to baby.
This post is sponsored by Gerber, however, the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
If you’re like me, introducing solids can be a little nerve-wracking. Where do I start? What age do I start? Which foods do I start with? What is the best food for my baby? I’m certainly not a Pediatrician, and I am not here to provide medical advice, however, I am a busy mom who has helped my five babies learn to love solid foods.
It’s so bittersweet that babies change so fast – new milestones, new skills, new adventures! As they grow their nutritional needs change and we get the distinct honor to introduce them to the right kind of nutrition. Even this early in life, what they eat impacts their overall nutrition and I’m excited to share a few tips with you that I hope will make your transition to solid foods easy.
HOW TO INTRODUCE SOLIDS TO BABY
- For each of my babies, I waited until their 6 month birthday to introduce their first taste of solids. I was fortunate to be able to breastfeed all five (see my breastfeeding journey here) so I breastfed exclusively until their 6 month birthday. Whether your baby is formula-fed or breastfed, 6 months is a great time to start but some start introducing solids as early as 4 months.
- Start the process with an iron-fortified cereal. Babies can begin to be depleted of iron around the 4-6 month mark. Iron helps the brain develop and supports learning abilities and growth so it’s important to ensure they have an adequate source of Iron, and breastmilk is naturally low in iron. Doctors recommend iron-fortified cereals like Gerber’s, especially if they’re 6-12 months range. I have been feeding my kids Gerber Infant Cereal for nearly nine years! I love that it has other essential nutrients such as Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin C, E and six B Vitamins, and they enjoy it into toddlerhood.
- If your baby isn’t a fan of the food you are introducing at first, keep offering it for 7 days. It often takes 7-11 days for the child’s taste buds to adapt. I’ve found that after a few days they begin to enjoy it and after a week they are typically used to the texture and taste.
- Next introduce fruits or vegetables (in any order). When I became a mother almost nine years ago, the advice given was to start with vegetables so as not to get baby hooked on sweets first, but since then it’s evolved into offering either one.
- Stick with the same food item for seven days so you can watch how your baby reacts and so they can get used to the texture and flavor as mentioned above.
- Offer Gerber Infant Cereal daily and mix in the fruit or vegetable you are serving. We actually serve it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Make dinnertime fun for baby! Use fun motions and sounds (pretend the spoon is a flying airplane) to help keep your child’s focus.
- Give praise when they take a bite. Clap your hands, which will probably elicit a clap from your baby too. Positive praise will go a long way and show them they are on the right path.
- If they are refusing a bite, show them their older sibling (or yourself) taking a bite.
- If they are still refusing to eat, give it more time! In my experience, they will adapt and begin to enjoy the food you are introducing.
INTRODUCING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
By about 6-8 months babies usually have a few teeth and could be ready for pureed, mashed or chopped vegetables and fruit. If you are feeding baby from a jar, place a small amount into a bowl and discard any leftovers, that way you don’t have to waste food from the jar and you can save it for later. You will gradually increase the serving size over time. If the baby has a reaction, remove that food and see if the reaction goes away and always consult your doctor for concerns or questions.
Our favorite vegetables to introduce are sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, and butternut squash. Our favorite fruits are bananas, avocado, pears, and peaches.
INTRODUCING FINGER FOODS
By about 8-12 months your baby will love learning a new skill by utilizing their fine motor skills and feeding themselves. You can introduce finger foods and foods high in protein. We love to serve green beans cut in small pieces, peas are great options, as well as small pieces of avocado and bananas. You can also cut up small pieces of soft chicken, soft cheese and you can scramble egg yolks too (you’ll want to wait to serve egg whites until after the age of 1).
We typically introduce “whole” milk by babies first birthday, however, I have also breastfed longer depending on my babies needs. The extra fat in whole milk helps with brain development.
I couldn’t share tips on how to introduce solids to baby without looking through old photos of my sweet babies having their first bite of Gerber Cereal. I thought I probably had a picture of each of them, and sure enough, I did! Please excuse me while I take the liberty to share this preciousness. Look at my babies, with their cereal-laden grins, I can’t believe how much they’ve grown.
I hope these tips are helpful in starting your journey with solid foods. Do you have any tips to share with us about your experience with how to introduce solids to baby? I would love for you to share them in the comments! Here’s a handy pin for you to save this for later and save on any Gerber Cereal at Target by using the Cartwheel app to redeem!