We’ve leveled up again in the parenting game, guys. And I’m pretty excited about this one. We are officially done spoon-feeding our kids — and we’re almost to the point where we don’t even have to cut up food into tiny pieces any more. Both of our kids dove pretty willingly into the world of solid foods (especially Maggie!), and I’m completely stoked on the fact that we no longer have to make a different meal for every member of our family. Our kids eat what we eat, and it’s bliss. So. If you’ve got a babe coming up on the same milestones, here are our best tips on how to introduce your baby to solid foods.
Before we start, let me give my usual caveat: we’re no experts and were definitely not doctors. So check with your pediatrician to see what is best for your baby and your family. These are the things that have worked for us.
Around 4-5 months, we introduced pureed solids for both kids. I chose to make all of our baby food because we had a really great baby food maker and it was way more affordable than buying jars. We also had kids with sensitive digestion, so if you make your own you know exactly what’s in there (Henry, for example, was particularly sensitive to citric acid, which is sometimes used as a preservative in jarred baby food). But if you go the jar route, just pick a brand with simple, single ingredients to start. Best to intro baby to foods one at a time in case there’s an allergic reaction to something. Our pediatrician always told us to introduce a new food every three or so days, but that got tedious. We probably ended up doing something new each day, more or less.
A few tips on choosing your first foods! We started both kids with yellow squash and zucchini. They’re bland and simple, and it sort of sets them up for success to move on to sweeter veggies and fruits. If you start, for instance, with applesauce, a kid may be more likely to balk when he moves on to broccoli. So we started with veggies and moved from bland to sweet there (ending with carrots, sweet potato, sweet peas, etc.), then moved on to fruit. After a month or 6 weeks, our kids had probably tasted about 30 different fruits and veggies. Not all were successful, but you’ll feel out what works with your babe.
Timing-wise, we started feeding veggies in the evening, giving our kids a mini “dinner” at the table, to get them used to eating a meal with the family. After they dropped a nursing session, we added a second meal, feeding them veggies in the evening and fruit in the morning.
Around 5-6 months, they both started showing signs of wanting to chew! I really love the Happy Baby Puffs and Baby Mum-Mum crackers for this. They teach dexterity, self-feeding, and chewing. And they pretty much dissolve in your mouth so you don’t have to worry too much about choking (although in the beginning we always supervise fairly closely — partly because it’s freaking adorable to see a kid eating his first cracker). So we would introduce those if a kiddo was hungry waiting for a meal, or if we were all snacking and wanted to get baby in on the action.
Also around 6 months came the weird world of pureed meat. Our pediatrician had us introduce pureed meats around this time, in the same way that we did the veggies and fruits. I myself cannot deal with how gross a container of pureed chicken is, but ya know. Plug your nose and go for it. I also couldn’t bear to give the stuff to my kids plain so I went rogue and started seasoning things. We would often use onion powder, garlic salt, curry seasoning, and other similar spices to jazz it up. We would also make combo meals, pureeing pears with chicken, or apples with turkey, or something similar. It made for better tasting meals and kids who would just plain eat more.
Pretty soon I bet you’ll notice that your kids are more interested in grabbing what’s on your plate than having you spoon feed them. That’s your cue! Get ready to cut every single thing you give your kid into the tiniest pieces you can possibly image. Just kidding, I’m being dramatic. Sort of. If your baby is clearly wanting to feed himself, just start cutting up soft foods into teeny bites and see what happens. Supervise closely at first — Maggie had a tendency to just shove fistfuls in her mouth. She handled it, but it was unnerving at first. Every kid is different. So if you’re going the cutting up food route, a couple of tips. First, keep a pair of scissors in your bag! I always have a pair of regular old scissors from the Target dollar aisle when we’re out to eat and it saves SO MUCH TIME. I’ve had probably 30 different moms, no exaggeration, tell me it’s the best idea they’ve seen for meal time. Cut baby’s food up into pieces and then you’re free to eat your own meal. Secondly, when kiddo is starting out on finger foods, just make sure they’re soft enough to gum/chew until they get used to it.
Finally! You’ll move on to bigger pieces. Maggie turned 10 months and started refusing tiny pieces. So we finally figured out that she likes to hold chunks of things that she can gnaw on and take off little bites for herself. Just watch for your baby’s cues and they’ll tell you what they need. And congrats! You (sort of) have your hands free at meal time again! Leave a comment if you have any questions — I’m sure I’ve left out something here and there. Happy feeding! xoxo