Starting baby food is an exciting part of parenting. The transition from only liquids to semi-solids could be challenging for some moms whereas, some babies may seem to enjoy solids more than liquids.
When to start solids with your baby
This is a very important question, every mom asks. It totally depends on your decision, your baby’s growth and your pediatrician suggestions.
Most of the pediatricians suggest not to start solids until your baby is six months old. For at least six months, babies should be breastfed or formula-fed.
For both of my kids, my pediatrics gave me a green signal for introducing semi-solids at about five months. Both of my kids are fed combination feed, breastmilk, and formula, so they enjoyed solids more as it would have them feel a lot fuller.
Formula feed is heavier than breastmilk. The formula-fed babies gain weight more quickly than breastfed babies, so chances are, they may need more nutrition as per their growth requirements.
Some signs of readiness, you may notice, are; your baby sits up and has full control over her neck. Baby’s weight is also one of the factors your pediatrician may consider to suggest starting solids.
What type of solids you can start
When you have to start solid, the question arises, what to start with.
Remember babies have a sensitive digestive system. Not every baby is going to have the same reaction (positive or negative) to a specific type of food.
Most likely, your pediatrician would recommend you to start with rice cereal as it is light and easy to digest.
Choose any Rice cereal you want from baby food brands.
Start with a very small amount of cereal.
Gradually feed a small amount. Some babies would do really well as they enjoy the semi-textured food a lot while some may have trouble learning how to eat.
For babies, eating takes time. Since eating is a skill that your baby has to learn, and you have to be patient about it. Be prepared for all that mess because in the end, it’s all worth it.
How to prepare Rice cereal
I always prepared cereals in formula milk and for that, I followed these steps.
Boil water about 3 to 4 oz or more.
Take 2 tbsp of cereal in a bowl and add just half a scoop of formula.
Add hot water in the bowl and mix well.
If you are using hot water, the cereal is going to rise well and it will be fluffier and less watery. It will have a perfect consistency that cannot be achieved with cold water.
However, it is your choice if you want to use room temperature water or breastmilk.
Next, if you have used boiling water, I would suggest you keep it very thick and now add room temperature water to have the right consistency for your baby to eat.
Make sure it is not HOT for your baby to try. If it is hot, have it sit there for a while until it gets on the right temperature.
Also, you have to make sure it is not very thick for just starting out phase.
In the beginning, you have to start with one food at a time and watch out for any signs of allergy or food reactions for at least a week. Once you see that your baby is getting better at eating semi-solids, you can introduce new foods slowly and gradually.
You do not need to add sugar or salt at this early stage as it is not recommended. Let your baby get familiar with what food tastes like not the spices.
What are the options as per your baby’s age
You can try fruits and vegetable purees according to how many months old your baby is.
- Mashed or blended
- Sweet Potato
- Cooked apples softened and blended
- Mangoes blended
- Boiled carrots and blended
- Squash boiled and blended
- Spinach boiled and blended
When you are starting out and your baby is learning how to eat, you have to make her familiar with the taste of every fruit and vegetable you and your family eat to make it easy for you once she grows up.
What if my baby does not enjoy fruits or vegetables alone
There is a possibility that your baby may not like the taste of fruits and veggies.
What I did to overcome this issue was, try mixing with rice cereal or any cereal your baby enjoy the most.
My kids loved rice cereal, so I mixed up the fruit or veggies with a bowl of cereal to develop their taste of that particular food and then gradually with time I skipped adding cereal.
Start with oatmeal cereal or other cereals available in the market. You can also add ready to eat purees in the cereal to get familiar with a taste. Gerber ready to eat food works great in mixing with oatmeal.
Once your baby gets pro in eating, you may wonder what else to feed your baby.
Another favorite baby food recipe is Oatmeal. It is nutritious and healthy.
Quick oats by Quakers had been my kids’ favorite meal.
How to prepare Oatmeal for babies
You can choose traditional oats, quick oats or any oats of your choice.
Let it cook in water for some time so that it gets soft and tender.
As per your baby’s age. Blend it if you want it to be super easy to eat. However, I would prefer it to be a little textured so that it would help babies get used to solid food more than semi-solid.
It is your choice to add salt or any other spice you prefer. Although it is not suggested to give babies salt or sugar at this stage.
Since, we as a family eat spicy food so as my personal preference, I prepared my babies food with a little bit of salt and black pepper to have them familiar with a taste.
What are the Choices with Oatmeal
You can add any type of fruit or veggies you prefer in oatmeal to make it a one good size nutritious meal for your baby.
Veggies you can add in oatmeal are;
- cooked Spinach
- Steamed Brocolli
- Boiled carrots
- a small portion of any leftover meal
- Or any other fruit or veggies of your choice
If you are introducing meat, you may want to add in the oatmeal. I would highly recommend to chop it in the baby food blender or use a hand blender to avoid being too chunky as required by your baby’s age.
Meat forms you can gradually introduce in your baby’s diet.
- Boiled and shredded chicken (blended)
- Minced chicken
- Any other meat of your choice (fully cooked and shredded)
No matter what you choose to feed your baby, you have to make sure that your baby is learning the art of eating and there are no allergic reactions before you proceed to any other food.
We as a family eat relatively spicy food. So whatever food I cooked, as long as I feel it is healthy for my daughter, I would add a little bit in her oatmeal to add more flavor to her food and made her more comfortable eating with what we eat on daily basis.
If it is chicken, mutton or beef, I would just add shredded cooked meat (sometimes washed due to extra spice) to her oatmeal.
Semolina is a nutritious food for babies but you should not start right away when your baby starts eating. Just weight your baby to be at least eight to nine months old.
How to make semolina pudding for babies
Take a tsp of butter in a pan, add semolina flour about a two tablespoon. Stir on medium heat, then add water about more than half a cup, and let it cook for some time. Semolina rise as it gets cooked.
It will get thicker as it simmers.
Adding a little bit of sugar is your own preference. However, you can add cardamom while cooking for flavor and easy digestion.
Next, add a little bit formula or breastmilk as per the required consistency. If you feel it is too grainy for your baby, you can blend it in the blender and keep it refrigerated for about four to five days.
Self-feeding / baby-led weaning
Keep baby eating pureed form food or blended food for about 2 months 6 to 8 months. Then once you see your baby is sitting up well and can swallow food well you may want to start baby-led weaning.
Try to teach your baby to eat by herself. Most of you may think it is too early to think about that.
Well, as a mom you know your baby the best, thus you would know when your child is ready to try finger food.
I have tried feeding finger food to my second child, and I regret so much for not trying with my first one. He just does not want to eat by himself. I have to feed him even he is 3 now, whereas my daughter enjoys food by herself and tries everything.
This method really works, you have to be over cautious with a risk of choking but your child would learn eventually.
Start with very tiny bites and spread it all over the tray of your baby’s eating chair.
You will notice her making a pincer and taking it to her mouth.
Try to feed her by this method on mealtime. You keep her engaged in those pincers while you keep feeding cereal, oatmeal.
This method works 100%. I cannot recommend that enough.
Babies would eventually learn self-feeding, and they would only eat as much as needed.
Ready-made snacks you can try
The cons of self-feeding are it would be messier, risk of choking and for that, you have to be super cautious, but the pros are long term, and it would save you so much sanity. Remember, never leave your baby unattended.
Start with tiny bites and gradually increase the size of finger food bites to reduce the risk of choking.
Make sure the food is fully cooked.
What organic food options you can use for baby-led weaning
Introduce tiny bites of fruits and veggies, deseeded.
- Hard-Boiled egg
- Boiled and Shredded chicken or any other meat
- Boiled carrots
- Ripe Avocado
- French toast
- Cheerios or any other cereal
- Pasta Bites
- Cheese Bites
- French Fries
How to Contain the mess
The baby-led weaning process gets messier. However, there are ways you can contain the mess.
- Put a disposable sheet on the floor under your baby’s eating chair.
- Use disposable sticky placemats when you visit restaurants with a baby.
- Have a bib shirt for feeding baby to avoid messy clothes.
- These silicone bibs are must-have for your baby as these are washable and easy to clean.
Important tips when starting solids
When you start solids, it is most likely your baby may get uncomfortable in her stomach as she may get used to different types of food.
Try not to introduce new food at dinner time. As it may get uncomfortable in your baby’s tummy and disturb sleep time.
Every new food you try should be at breakfast or lunchtime.
In the beginning, you may want to use gas relief drops at night to ease gas or stomach issues.
You have to make sure there are no allergic reactions to foods you are feeding your baby before you proceed on to the next one. Some babies are lactose intolerant, allergic to eggs or peanuts.
For stage 1 – 4 to 6 months or 6 to 7 months, it depends on when you want to start solids with your baby.
Start with a very soft and puree type food.
Stage 2 – (7 to 8 or 8 to 9 months ) You can slowly move on to a little bit of grainy food that does not have a choking risk. It may be in a thicker consistency. For instance, if you are feeding oatmeal to your baby, you might want to skip blending and try feeding a fully cooked oatmeal.
Stage 3 – (10 months or up ) Now you can move up to baby-led weaning. As a mom, you can decide whether your baby is ready to try tiny chunks of food. Cut any soft fruit like strawberries or bananas in super small size and offer just a few. Gradually you can transition with food choices once your baby masters the art of eating.
Transitioning from one type of food to another is very essential as your baby grows. If babies are fed on just pureed form of food, with time it would not be helpful in developing their chewing abilities and may weaken their muscles.
Things you need to start off with baby feeding solids
- You need a learner sippy cup to teach them the art of sipping water or juice water down.
- Baby bowl and spoons set with lids that would help you store food for later use.
- You need silicone bibs that are easy to clean and washable.
- These snack catcher cups for your home and your car. Ever since I have got them for my kids, car rides have been less messy and quieter. I highly recommend these.
- Disposable placemats that stick on the table for eating outside without any pulling off plates.
- This Ezpz silicon happy mat works great for feeding baby food. It is washable and it sticks with the surface.
No matter when you choose to start solids for your baby, always discuss it with your child’s pediatrician.