How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby

How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby

So you now know when to start your baby on solid foods, and you may have decided that the time is now — your baby’s ready!  Now, it’s time to feed your little one solids for the first time.  But that can be easier said than done.  How should you introduce solids?  What foods should you begin with? Cereal? Fruits and Veggies? Help!

Introducing Solids:  What Should Be Your Baby’s First Foods?

When it comes to introducing solids, infant cereals (particularly rice cereal) are traditionally recommended as the best first foods for baby.  These make great starting foods because their texture is soft and smooth, and their taste is fairly bland.  They can also be mixed with formula or breastmilk, making their flavor familiar to baby and making the transition to solids even easier.  Finally, infant cereals are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and they’re fortified with iron (something babies start needing more of around 6 months of age).

However, research has shown that cereal is not always the best starting food for babies.  Today, some health experts recommend starting with fruits and vegetables (pureed, of course), or substituting whole grain oatmeal for powdered infant cereal. They suggest that bananas, avocado, or sweet potatoes are excellent first foods since they’re sweet (like breastmilk) and easy to mash.

In general, it’s best to delay the introduction of allergy-causing foods (see below) and start with foods that are considered safe for your 4-6 month old baby (like the ones listed above). Of course, all babies are different and we’ve heard of babies being allergic to even banana. This is rare, but you will want to take it slow with any new foods (see “4-day rule” below)!

Introducing Solids:  What About Food Allergies and Eczema?

Food allergies can make any mom worry, but you may be particularly concerned if you have a family history of food allergies or of eczema (a skin condition that can be an indicator of food allergies.)  If that’s the case, you will want to be even more careful about watching for allergic reactions in your baby or how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Regardless of whether or not your family has a history of food allergies, it’s recommended that you introduce individual foods one at a time.  In other words, don’t mix peas and carrots together if both are brand new foods for your baby.  Offer them separately.  What’s more, you should follow the “4 Day Rule”:  wait about 4 days in between introducing a new food to your baby. That will give you time to see if an allergic reaction develops, and it’ll help you better determine which food is responsible for the reaction.  And if food allergies run in your family, be especially careful to introduce foods this way. You don’t have to delay introducing any foods – the old “rule” to introduce typically allergenic foods like peanuts and shellfish after 12 months of age no longer applies. However, if you are introducing an allergenic food – especially if a history of such allergies runs in your family – observe your baby closely after offering that particular food.

Food Sensitivities/Intolerances vs. Food Allergies

Keep in mind, too, that while your baby may not develop a true food allergy, he may have some food sensitivities or food intolerances.  Food sensitivities and intolerances are more common than true food allergies.  For instance, true milk allergies aren’t that common, but milk sensitivities and intolerances are.

In addition, The symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are usually less severe than true food allergies.  For example, after eating a new food, you might notice that your baby has a night of poor or restless sleep.  Or you might notice that he seems gassy after eating something new.  These can be signs of a food intolerance.

For more information about food intolerances/sensitivities, and how they’re different from true food allergies, check out this article on

Introducing Solids: Should I Still Breastfeed/Bottle Feed?

Oh, yes!  The fact that your baby is eating solids now doesn’t mean you should cut out (or even cut back on) breastmilk or formula.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastmilk or formula be your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.  Therefore, your goal in introducing your baby to solids isn’t to provide her with nutrition that she’s not getting from breastmilk or formula.  Breastmilk and formula still give her all the nutrition she needs.  Rather, you’re introducing solids in order to give her some practice at eating (and eventually feeding herself) solid foods.  To be sure that your baby’s getting enough breastmilk or formula, check out our Amounts of Solid Foods by Age chart; it includes recommended daily amounts.

Keep this in mind as you start feeding your baby solids; if you notice that he’s eating more and drinking less than his required daily amount, reduce the amount of solid food you offer and try to increase his nursing or bottle feeding to ensure that he’s getting enough breastmilk or formula.  Solid food will fill him up (and those extra calories will be necessary as he gets bigger), but it won’t offer the same nutrition as breastmilk or formula.

Introducing Solids:  Slow and Steady is the Way to Go!

A final word about how to introduce solids:  make “slow and steady” your mantra as you introduce your baby to this new way of eating.  Remember, this is a big change for your baby — her eating now involves new tastes, new textures, and new skills on her part (like chewing!)  As with anything new, your baby’s going to need some practice with eating solid food before she gets “good” at it.

So be prepared to be patient.  In the beginning, meals will likely be long and messy.  You may wonder if your baby’s gotten any food in his belly after you see how much he’s managed to smear in his hair and on his face! That’s the fun part! 🙂 Or, you may find that it takes 45 minutes to get finish a few tablespoons of cereal.  But that’s okay!  It’s all part of the learning process.  Slowly, steadily, your baby will figure it out, and eating will be more fun and less work!

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly meal plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

How did you introduce your baby to solids? Share your tips!

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13 thoughts on “How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby”

  1. I started my 6 MO on solids and he does well for the first two bites but then doesn’t want anything to do with it. Ive yet to get through a whole bottle of food and feel like we’re wasting more than he’s eating….help?

    • @ Paige Szymanski – no worries, this is normal. Plenty of babies are light solid-food eaters at this age. Nothing to worry about, so long as your child is getting plenty of breastmilk or formula, which is the primary source of nutrition for the first year 🙂

  2. Hi There,

    Is it just me, or does this website seem incredibly out of date? What about baby led weaning? Many people do not start their babies on purees, let alone cereal anymore. Also, the recommendation to introduce foods one at a time with 3-4 days in between is no longer up to date. Now they say anything goes (except honey, and obvious choking hazards like nuts or cherry tomatoes), and early frequent exposure to major allergens (ex: peanut butter) will reduce the chances of your child developing an allergy.

    • @ Lola – We have several articles on baby-led weaning; you can see them here:

      Sorry you weren’t able to find those easily. As for your point about introducing allergens early – you’re right, recommendations changes in mid-2013, about a year after our series on food allergies and sensitivities was published. We’ve updated the post to include a mention of the new recommendations, as well as a few links to more recent research on food allergies/sensitivities.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • I’m a bit disappointed because I just found this site and was planning to go through the main list of titles (this article being the second link). But I’m not seeing the update regarding the allergies… Pretty sure the recommendations based on new research are now saying start early with allergens and waiting is worse, but when I navigate via your drop down menus, this post still comes up with the old advice (which was formerly widely given by pediatricians, etc, but which was neither based on traditional knowledge nor scientific evidence). Here’s an example summary of a recently completed randomised trial: Please go to the source published study by Dr. Lack to give us your take on it.

      • @ Erin – thanks for the heads up! We have update the article to reflect this change. We appreciate your input very much! Thanks for commenting.

  3. I’ve read it can take up to 10 tries before a baby starts to like a particular food. Is that true? I want my baby to like a variety of foods, so when she gets older (toddler and beyond), she won’t be a picky eater. Is it possible to start “training” her now at 7 1/2 months? I thought she would love apples, pears, peaches because they are sweet, but she doesn’t seem to like them AT ALL. She will take one bite, and then will refuse any more, so I give up. So far, she only will eat rice & oatmeal cereal, carrots, and peas (with breastmilk). What do you suggest I do to help her to become a good, non-picky eater?

    • @ Veronica George – that’s certainly true! That’s why it’s so key to keep trying with those foods that your baby doesn’t seem to like. You don’t need to force it, necessarily, but wait a few days and try again. You can also try mixing those foods she doesn’t seem to like with foods that she does. For instance, try mixing in applesauce or peach puree into her oatmeal.

      I will say that it’s GREAT she’s a fan of carrots and peas – most parents struggle to get their lithe ones to eat veggies! It really does sound like you’re doing a great job, Veronica – keep up the good work!

    • @ Veronica George – yes, it can take some time – that’s why it’s so important not to give up on a particular food to quickly! I’d suggest continuing to offer your daughter those fruits that she’s rejecting right now – wait a few days, and try again. You could also try mixing them in with foods she does like – perhaps you could stir applesauce or pear puree into her oatmeal, and see if she’ll accept it that way.

      I will say it’s GREAT that she’s a veggie fan – most parents struggle with introducing veggies! It sounds like you’re doing great job, Veronica – keep up the good work! 🙂

  4. When she acted like she was interested in what I was eating I would give her a small piece and let play with or whatever she wanted to do and eventually she was eating solids.

  5. @ Abidoye funke — Welcome to the site! And thanks for commenting. Regarding your question, 4 months is the very earliest that a baby can begin eating solid foods. It’s generally best to wait until babies are a little closer to 6 months of age, so if you can hold off offering solids for another month or so, do that. But if you really feel that he’s ready, consult with your healthcare provider and see what advice he/she offers.

    Again, thanks for commenting! And check back often; we have lots of other useful articles coming up. 🙂

  6. My son is 4month plus now,whatever iam eating he too want †? eat from it.can he start eating solid now?.

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