Introducing solid food to your baby: A complete guide

July 05, 2019
Introducing solid food

Introducing solid food to a baby may be confusing as babies vary.  There is no cut and dry age by which your little one should have started eating solid foods. Before worrying about getting started with the solid food introduction path, it is important to assess their readiness first.

I enjoy talking about my kids as infants, and as someone who has had a fair exposure to babies all her life - I will be sharing a lot of personal experience as well.

Is my baby ready to start eating solids?

Some people prefer to start feeding cereals to their babies as early as 6-12 weeks old. It helps them get full for longer, and as a consequence, also sleep longer. This is not a good idea as the baby's digestive system is not fully developed at this time. This may lead to stomach problems and aches.

Pediatricians advise that one starts solids at 5-6 months of the baby's age (see study abstract from NCBI)

In addition to the above guideline, you may find these few tips helpful in determining whether your baby is ready to start eating solid foods. There is no guarantee that the baby will be ready when they hit a certain age, but you can look out for some clues of readiness from them.

As a first time mother (back then), I relied on these tips to determine my son's readiness for solids:

If you are happy with your baby's readiness, now you can worry about the ins and outs of introducing solid food to them.

Introducing solid food to your baby (getting started)

solid food introduction

Of course, there is always baby food in jars in all the shopping aisles in the world - but I preferred to start out on my own by making the food at home. It is not difficult at all, and the food does come out delicious.

Organic vegetables (if possible), and a good food steamer will be your best friends as you start your little one on solids. What you will have will be a combination of quick and healthy homemade baby food to feed to your child.

  • Thoroughly clean your vegetables, chop them and steam (until soft)  as per the steamer's instructions. Babies love carrots, and sweet potatoes (for obvious reasons), Use them as a starting point when introducing solid food to them. Fruits are just as good, so you can use peaches and apples too.
  • Remember to pick out any seeds from the veggies and fruit.
  • It is not necessary to season the vegetables and fruit as these occur naturally to vegetables.
  • Once steamed, transfer the food to a food processor (add a little water for ease of blending). For a younger baby, keep the food smooth and creamy.  
  • You can buy little jars or containers to use or even use ice cube trays to store your food.  Freeze the steamed food in little portions so you won’t waste any during feedings.

  • These can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or warmed in hot water. Always mix well and stick your clean finger in the food to look for hot spots. It is not a good idea to microwave the steamed food, as it can overheat and burn your baby.
  • Keep your food in the freezer by date, with the newer batches going behind the old.  The food can be frozen for three months.  Once you see how rich in color these steamed foods are, you will never want to go back to jarred, store-bought baby food.

The right starter solid foods for your baby

You have established that your baby is ready for solid foods, and you have a basic idea of how to prepare it. I never wanted to overwhelm my kids with too many choices, but it doesn't hurt to explore other starter solid food options for your baby.

  • A mixture of cereals with the baby's usual amount of milk is always a good place to start them on solid foods.  You can adjust it to be as soft or thick as the baby can tolerate (depending on their age). A trick that is as old as the hills is to add a spoon of the baby's cereal into their feeding milk bottle. 
  • Babies love yogurt - start with the plain variety. It is healthy, and added sugar is not necessary for the baby.
  • Pureed vegetables and fruits (as I've already mentioned). Spinach and broccoli can be high in iron and fiber. It is better if you introduce them at a later stage.
Once you have introduced the foods above successfully, you can add other vegetables, like green beans and peas, and meat. 

Beware trying to approach those first few solid meals when your baby is really hungry – he is likely to rebel. Give him just a little breast milk or formula, and he is likely to be much more patient with the process. Don’t expect much those first few feedings. Your baby will wear more than he will eat for some time. But, it will get better – and these first few meals are more about learning the skill than actual nutrition, anyway!

I hope you find this guide on introducing solid food to your baby to be useful.  Feel free to pin or share.