Starting Baby on Solids
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Starting Baby on Solids
Find out which solid foods to introduce to your baby and when!
When can my baby start eating solid food?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend introducing solids when a baby is six months old. Before that, you should breastfeed or bottle feed exclusively. Although some babies seem eager to start solid food earlier, your baby may not be able to digest food properly before he is six months old, and any food you introduce might cause an allergy.
Which first foods should my baby eat?
Finely pureed vegetables and fruits are good first foods. You can also try cereal. Rice cereal is the least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Dilute cereal and purees with lukewarm, boiled water. Strain vegetable and fruit puree so as to remove fiber, which is difficult to digest. Make sure the consistency of first foods is very thin so that your baby can swallow them easily. As baby masters the skill of eating, you can gradually make the food’s texture thicker.
How should I introduce a new food?
Introduce one food item at a time, so that if your baby has an allergic reaction, you can identify which food is causing the allergy. After you are sure baby can tolerate the new food, you can mix them together.
Offer the new food over three days: one teaspoonful on the first day, two teaspoonfuls on the second day and three teaspoonfuls on the third day. On all three days, watch for skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, crankiness or any other signs of discomfort, which are indications that your baby has developed an allergy to this particular food. If you observe any signs of allergy, contact your doctor immediately and stop feeding your baby the food.
What if my baby refuses food or doesn’t seem to like a certain food?
Babies may refuse a new food because they are not familiar with the taste or the texture. However, baby’s taste buds change every two to three weeks, so reintroduce the food item in a few weeks, and your baby might accept it. Also, taste buds change during illness, so don’t try to introduce new foods when your baby is sick. Do not add salt or sugar to baby’s food. Doing so will develop baby’s taste for sweet and salty foods, which can lead to weight and dental problems, and high blood pressure later in life. Also, don’t try to over-feed your child. Offer nutritious food and let him decide how much he wants. Babies instinctively eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full; try to keep this instinct alive.
Change the foods you offer him monthly because babies do get bored and need variety. Also, remember he must feel hungry to eat, so don’t keep feeding him a few spoonfuls throughout the day. Establish meal times and do not offer food in between unless your baby indicates that he is hungry. Have him join you at the table, so he’ll look forward to eating with the rest of the family.
Will milk continue to be important after my baby eats solid food?
After starting solid foods, milk will still form a major part of your baby’s diet. You can continue breastfeeding as long as you and your baby want (many moms breastfeed for 2 years). Healthy babies can usually stop breast or bottle feeding by the age of one year if the proper solid foods have been added on time. After baby is one year old, you can offer him full-cream cow’s milk or preferably specially-formulated milk that caters to his developmental needs. If your baby begins to refuse drinking his milk after he turns one, you can try including it in some of his other foods to ensure that he fulfills his daily requirements. You can also try adding different flavors to his milk as this may encourage him to drink it.
These are general guidelines for introducing solid foods, but there is no set schedule, as doctors’ opinions differ and babies develop at different rates.
Make sure to also read the cautions below the schedule
Pureed vegetables: potatoes, zucchini or carrots
Pureed fruits: bananas, apples or pears
6 to 8 months
Egg yolk (boiled)
Chicken (grind and moisten with water or broth)
Red meat (grind and moisten)
*Cheeses (avoid hard or salty ones)
Diluted fruit juices (avoid citric ones) (1 part juice to 10 parts boiled, cooled water)
9 to 12 months
Combination meals and finger foods:
Cooked sweet potato sticks
Peas and carrots (pureed)
Most pureed fruits and chunks of soft, fresh fruit like banana, peach or melon
Chunks of soft, cooked fruit like apple and pear
Specially formulated milk or cow’s milk
Avoid before one year
Avoid before two years
Avoid before three years
Potential choking hazards like: – Popcorn – Whole grapes (cut into quarters before serving) – Raw carrots – Hard candies and lollipops (it’s best to avoid these altogether!) – Nuts
*If anyone in your family has eczema, asthma or allergies, check with your doctor before introducing milk products like yogurt and cheese, as they may produce an allergic reaction. Some experts advise against introducing any dairy products in the first year and introducing them cautiously after that.
**There is a controversy now surrounding gluten found in these products and it’s negative effect on many people’s health, so read up on that.
Don’t give your baby multi-vitamins without consulting with your pediatrician. If he notices that your baby needs iron he will prescribe an iron supplement. He may also prescribe calcium and vitamin D for your 6 month to 2 year old to help with teething.
Appetite stimulants are not recommended.
Also read: Time for Baby Food!