Your baby has gotten all her nutrition from breast milk or formula for these first six months or so. Now her tummy is mature enough for more, and she knows it. She may seem unsatisfied after her feedings and is probably beginning to show interest in your food by leaning toward or reaching for it. If this sounds like your little one, it is time to add solid foods to her menu. But, how do you begin this new adventure? Which kinds of foods should you start with?
How to begin solid foods
Remember that these foods are an addition to her diet, not a replacement for her formula or breast milk. Therefore, start- ing with just a few teaspoons of rice or barley infant cereal is a great way to begin the introduction of solid foods. Mix the dry cereal with formula, breast milk or water and offer it to her using a clean finger or a soft baby spoon. As she learns how to move the food to the back of her tongue and swallow, there will be more actually making it to her tummy and less dripping down her chin-I promise! When she’s ready for a thicker consistency, infant oatmeal is an option. Try one cereal or food for a few days, before moving to the next one. This way, if there is any kind of allergic reaction, it is obvious which food is the culprit.
When choosing a first fruit or vegetable to introduce, look for the label “1st Foods” on the baby food jars or containers. These have been prepared so that they have an extra smooth texture and can be swallowed easily. They will also contain one food in each container, rather than several mixed together like some of the 2nd Foods. If you are preparing the food yourself, be sure to puree the food in your blender or food processor so the texture and consistency is easy for your baby to manipulate in her little mouth. There is no need to add sugar or salt to the food. This ensures your little one is getting the simplest, healthiest version of these foods.
If your baby is enjoying her cereal, you may want to mix in a little bit of baby food with her cereal. As long as you wait a few days before introducing another food (I’ve always served one food for 3-7 days before trying another one), so you can be sure there isn’t an allergic reaction, you can mix the food into her cereal or serve it on its own. Slowly increase the amount of food you offer and soon she will be finishing the whole container at each sitting.
Healthy favorite first foods
Now that you have decided it is time to add foods to your baby’s meals, have fun with it! Make a list of healthy starter foods (or use our list of favorites below), head to the grocery store and choose your baby’s first food. Take it slowly and let your baby enjoy this new experience. And be ready with the camera. That first spoonful of peas could provide the most memorable photo to date!
Favorite first foods
These are all vitamin-packed, healthy first foods that are easy to prepare and easy for your little one to digest.
- Rice Cereal
- Barley Cereal
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
Set up your feeding station before beginning to ensure a smooth feeding experience. Be sure to have napkins or wet wipes, a small baby spoon, the prepared cereal or food and a baby bib within your reach. Make sure your baby is secured in a high chair/booster seat and cannot reach anything he can knock over or pull down.