Is your baby eyeing your mashed potatoes or green bean puree at the dinner table? Are they a pro during feeding time, swallowing milk with an upright head and neck? Was your little one reaching for the sweet potato casserole during your baby's first Thanksgiving? These could be signs that your baby is ready for their first solid foods. Your baby's first solid food is just one of the many baby developmental milestones they'll reach in their first year.
Knowing when to introduce baby food is all about understanding your baby and giving them the purest, most nutritious foods you can possibly give to ensure they absorb the essential nutrients they’ll need to grow healthy in their first few years. Your baby’s health is our number one priority. So, before you get started be sure to consult with your baby’s pediatrician.
How do you know when to start baby food the right way? In this guide, we’re taking baby steps through the world of baby’s first foods: when to introduce it, foods to look for and avoid & how to introduce solid foods to your baby’s tiny tummy the right way.
When to Start Baby Food
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting babies on baby food, or solid foods, at about 6 months old. By 7 or 8 months, your little food critic may be taste testing a variety of solid foods, such as infant cereal, proteins, vegetables & grains.1
Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solid Foods
The morning your baby reaches for you on their 6-month birthday may not magically be the day they’re starting solids. Every child is different. Although solid foods are not recommended before 4 months old, there are signs you can look for around 4–6 months that indicate your baby may be ready to nibble on tasty new solid foods, including:2
- Baby can sit up on their own or with support
- Baby can lift and control their head and neck
- When food comes airplaning by, baby opens wide
- Most food goes down the hatch and not over the chin
- Baby brings toys and teethers to their mouth
- Baby swallows food easily and readily
Best First Foods for Baby
Solid foods like pureed meat, vegetables, fruits & iron-fortified baby cereal are excellent places to start when serving up your baby’s first foods outside breast milk and formula.
We asked Dr. Payal Adhikari, a board-certified pediatrician and expectant parents teacher at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, to provide us with her favorite first baby foods. Here’s what she said:
Solid Foods to Avoid
A rule of thumb for baby’s first foods is to stick to 100% natural, organic foods. Try to avoid baby food in cans if you’re able. Instead, mash organic fruits and cooked vegetables yourself.
Remember that your baby’s digestive system is still developing, so choose gentler, more basic foods that are free of additives, preservatives, bacteria & chemicals.
Here are some solid foods to avoid:3
How to Introduce Baby Foods
Now that we’ve covered when to introduce baby food, let’s talk about how to introduce them.
At about 6 months, or whenever your baby shows signs of solid food readiness, you’ll introduce very small amounts of a single-ingredient solid food in addition to breastmilk or formula to slowly transition your baby from soft food to 100% solid foods.
This process is called weaning, as you’ll be weaning your baby off breastmilk and/or formula and onto solid foods permanently. The weaning process takes place between around 6 months to 12-18 months.
Baby’s Food by Age
The idea of weaning is to gradually decrease the amount of breastmilk or formula per day while gradually increasing the amount of solid foods per day over several months. In the first few months, think about solid foods as a tiny taste test rather than a full-fledged meal.
Every baby is different, and your child might move more quickly or slowly than the track is shown below. That’s OK! The extra patience will be worth it when you watch your explorer’s eyes light up as they traverse the culinary world.
Essential Supplies for Feeding Time
When introducing your baby’s first foods, there’s bound to be some dribbled squash, smashed sweet potato & smeared banana left in the wake of meal time. (Hey, they’re working on eating and artistic skills, right?)
Stock your kitchen and changing room with the following essentials to wipe sticky messes clean like a pro:
Nourish Your Future Food Critic with Monica + Andy
Who knows? How you mash that pumpkin may just be why they become the future Gordon Ramsay. No matter what, a baby’s first foods are an essential step in infant development that provides essential nutrients, teaches motor skills & expands their world of colorful, flavorful possibilities.
Our team of 95% women at Monica + Andy is designing baby and toddler products that we would trust with our kids. Our standards are high because we know yours are, too. Our fabrics are the softest + safest, our materials are chemical-free & our designs make parenthood a whole lot easier.
- CDC. When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html#:~:text=Your%20child%20can%20begin%20eating,yogurts%20and%20cheeses%2C%20and%20more
- CDC. Foods and Drinks to Avoid or Limit. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/foods-and-drinks-to-limit.html
- Healthline. Salt for Babies: How Much Is Safe? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/salt-for-babies#bottom-line
- What to Expect. Baby Feeding Schedule and Food Chart for the First Year. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/feeding-baby/how-to-get-baby-on-feeding-schedule/
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Do's and Don'ts for Baby's First Foods. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/dos-and-donts-for-babys-first-foods