Your baby is ready for solids, but where do you start? As a dietitian, here’s how I recommend parents get their future foodies going
Right when you’ve finally mastered the art of milk feeds—bam! Solid food enters the chat. If you’re feeling a bit lost amid this parenting curveball, you’re not alone, but rest assured that we’re here to help. As a dietitian, I’ve pulled together a list of tips and tricks to make your transition while starting baby on solids a piece of cake (or a spoonful of mashed avocado). Hold onto your aprons; it’s time for a messy adventure!
1. Know when baby’s ready.
The first step is to wait until your baby is developmentally ready for solid food. Look out for the following signs of readiness, which usually pop up around the 6-month mark:
- Baby can sit with minimal support
- Baby has steady head control
- Baby is super interested in food and watching you eat
- Baby has mastered bringing objects to mouth
Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sticking exclusively to breastmilk or formula for the first six months so there’s no need to rush onto the solid food scene. Savor those cozy milky moments.
2. Master the schedule.
There’s no mom math more challenging than mastering your baby’s schedule—finding that sweet spot for solid food between naps and milk feeds is no easy feat! Our go-to suggestion? Aim to introduce solid food about 30-90 minutes before or after a milk feed. It’s all about finding the happy zone, when your babe is hungry enough (but not hangry!) for solids but not too filled up on milk. If milk is liquid gold, timing is platinum.
3. Safety is key
While babies can enjoy most foods, there’s definitely a list of no-nos. Honey, for example, is off the table for babies under one due to the risk of containing spores of Clostridium botulinum, which could lead to infant botulism. Your in-laws may suggest mixing infant cereal into bottles for better sleep, but nope, that’s outdated advice because it’s a choking hazard. Plus, it’s important to learn the ropes of baby-friendly textures and shapes to minimize the risk of choking.
4. Offer the rainbow
Unlike the old-school approach of serving the same food for three days in a row, it’s totally OK to offer more variety right from the start. Introducing littles to different food groups—protein, fruit, veggies, grains—will expose them to a rainbow of color, nutrition, texture, and flavor. Trust me, grooming your future foodie is the ultimate goal.
5. Embrace the mess
Let those little hands dive into food fun! The mess isn’t just chaos; it’s an introduction to a whole new sensory adventure. Babies get to know the ins and outs of food through touch, smell, and, of course, shmearing it all over the place. It’s a helpful segue before taking that first taste plunge, so chuck the fancy bibs aside, strip them down to their diapers, and let the mess unfold! Tip: throw a splat mat or disposable tablecloth under the highchair to make clean up a whole lot easier!