The Complete Guide to Starting Baby on Solids

April 27, 2022 Infant

The time has come to start your baby on solids. What age is best? Is rice cereal needed? And what about baby-led weaning? We’ve got the answers (and more) in our complete guide to feeding your baby.

Most babies are ready to start solid foods around 6 months of age. If your baby is able to sit up on their own, and shows interest in food by opening their mouth when food is nearby, they may be telling you they’re ready.

STEP 1

Start at the Right Time

Most major health organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend starting solids around 6 months, but earlier may be okay (not before 4 months though), depending on your baby’s development. Here are signs your baby may be ready for solids:
STEP 2

Provide Nutritious First Foods

If you are exclusively breastfeeding you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on iron. Around 6 months, baby’s iron stores run low and human milk alone can’t cover baby’s high needs. The goal is to work up to two servings of iron-rich foods daily with sources of vitamin C rich foods, which help your baby absorb iron.
STEP 3

Pace the Progression

Offer foods that are nutritious and match your child’s eating skills. Learning to eat is challenging, so offering your baby food with small steps up in texture is important:
STEP 4

Be Responsive

Did you know that babies know how much food they need? Being responsive, or tuned in, to their needs helps children get the right amount of food they need to grow properly. Here are some tips:
STEP 5

Go for Variety

Take advantage of baby’s willingness to eat by introducing healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, fish and lean meats. By the time a child is eating table foods, they can eat what the family eats.
Don’t forget these top 5 safety tips:
  • Help prevent choking by avoiding round, hard foods like hot dogs, whole grapes, raw veggies and chunks of cheese or peanut butter. Chop food into half-inch pieces.
  • Avoid regular offerings of foods like cookies, cakes and sweet drinks until children are over 2 years old.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting 2-3 days between introducing each new food to watch for allergic reactions (like rash or diarrhea).
  • Skip the juice: your baby doesn’t need it. If you do choose to offer juice, wait until your baby is at least 6 months old, offer only 100% fruit juice and limit to 4-6 ounces a day.
  • Avoid cow’s milk and honey the first year.

Putting it all Together

The servings sizes below are average for each age group — your baby may eat more or less than this.
MEAL 4-6 MONTHS 6-8 MONTHS 8-10 MONTHS 10-12 MONTHS
BREAKFAST

1-2 Tbsp. infant rice cereal*

1-2 Tbsp. fruit or veggie

2-4 Tbsp. infant oat cereal

2-3 Tbsp. fruit or veggie

1 cooked egg yolk mashed with milk

4-6 Tbsp. infant whole wheat cereal

2-4 Tbsp. fruit

Egg mashed with milk or chopped egg omelet

Infant cereal

Scrambled eggs

Chopped, soft cantaloupe

SNACK - - -

1/2 cup yogurt with cut up banana

LUNCH -

1-4 Tbsp. infant rice cereal

2-3 Tbsp. fruit or veggie

2-4 Tbsp. mashed beans or chopped meat

Toast strips

2-4 Tbsp. fruit or veggie (chopped)

1/2 grilled cheese sandwich with tuna, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cooked carrot slices

SNACK - -

1/4 cup plain yogurt 2-4 Tbsp. fruit mixed in

Grated apple without the skin

1/2 string cheese quartered or stringed

DINNER

1-2 Tbsp. meat

1-2 Tbsp. fruit or veggie

2-3 Tbsp. meat or meat alternative

2-3 Tbsp. fruit or veggie

2-4 Tbsp. meat, poultry or tofu

Mashed potato

2-4 Tbsp. veggie

Chopped chicken Mashed or cubed sweet potato

Chopped green beans and pear

Understanding Trends

Today, some of the most popular trends in feeding baby include making homemade baby food, baby-led weaning (skipping the spoon), using a mostly plant-based or vegan diet, and pre-chewing baby’s food. Just because these are popular doesn’t mean they’re right, or even healthy, for your baby.
The following table explains flashy feeding trends, their benefits and drawbacks:
Popular Feeding Trends: The Good and Not so Good
As you can see, there are many important goals of feeding your baby the first year:

That’s a lot to accomplish! The good news is you have plenty of time to do this, and with the right advice and step-by-step help, you and your baby will sail through this stage with flying colors!

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: