When to Start Your Baby on Solids

"Would you like to see a menu?" Not exactly a question you’d ask a newborn with minimal dining options: breast milk or formula. A baby feasts exclusively on one or both of these “foods” for at least the first four months. So much for variety being the spice of life.  

Somewhere between 4 and 6 months, baby is ready to jazz up mealtime and chow down on
"solid foods”—which, inaccurately named, have more of a gooey, paste-like consistency. The first solid your baby samples will most likely be a semi-liquid ground rice cereal, a bland meal that won’t upset your little ones sensitive stomach. Keep in mind that diversifying your baby’s menu is a slow process that requires patience and a little ingenuity. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Start Simple. Mix rice cereal with breast milk or formula, a concoction that can be made thin or thick, depending on your child’s eating skills. A good rule of thumb is to blend 1 teaspoon of cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breast milk or formula.

  • Take Baby Steps. Once your child masters eating rice cereal, introduce her to strained or mashed foods. Carrots and peas are favorites among young gourmands.

  • Chop It Up. Somewhere between 7 and 10 months, your baby can try finely chopped table foods. Be sure that these foods are of a texture that dissolves easily in the mouth. Foods that need to be chewed can cause choking and should be avoided until your baby has both the teeth and muscular coordination to deal with them.

  • Avoid Portion Distortion. One or two teaspoons may seem like a small amount, but it’s plenty of nourishment for an infant, especially one that is just starting to tackle solid foods. Also, you don’t want her to eat so much solid food that it replaces the breast milk she needs.

  • One Food at a Time. Refrain from peppering your baby’s palate all at once with several foods and textures. If you offer something new at every meal, it is difficult for you to identify adverse reactions to specific foods, should they occur. Besides, too many new foods at once can overwhelm a child and affect her eating habits. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to only offer one new food every two or three days.

Further Reading
For more on introducing your infant to solid foods, check out these features:

Baby Meals Made Easy

Feeding 101: When to Introduce Solid Foods   

Starting Baby on Solids