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When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Foods?

Updated on December 23, 2015
ThePracticalMommy profile image

Marissa is a writer and a stay-at-home mom to four. She has experienced 4 c-section births and wants to share her knowledge and experience.

When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Food?

When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Food? Tips and Tricks
When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Food? Tips and Tricks | Source

When to Feed a Baby Solid Foods and What to Feed Them

Just like all things for babies, feeding a baby solid foods can be a fun yet challenging task. I know with both of my children, it took preparation, patience, and practice before it all went smoothly.

From the ages four to six months, many doctors recommend beginning to feed babies solid foods (by solid foods I mean pureed fruits, veggies and meats along with cereals). Usually at four months, the first solid food is rice cereal, followed by light colored fruits and vegetables. Around five months, babies can try foods like darker fruits and vegetables and other types of cereal. At six or so months, babies can try meats.

Many women, especially those who breastfeed, find that their babies are ready for table foods between 7-9 months since breast milk is quite nourishing.

Other moms skip the pureed foods altogether and try tiny cut up pieces of food a bit later, around 10 months when the baby has some teeth.

All is relative, based your preferences and advice from your doctor. Today, many people don't give their babies rice cereal as some say it can cause allergies and that it isn't nutritionally necessary. Do what is recommended by your doctor and of course what you think is best for your baby.

Baby Feeding Supplies

Baby spoons and bowls
Baby spoons and bowls | Source

Getting Ready to Feed Baby Solid Foods

Being prepared is an essential step in this process of feeding your baby solids for the first time. You want to have everything you need for feeding the baby since babies tend to be a bit impatient in this process, especially when the food is not coming quick enough. Don’t forget; babies are used to the steady flow of breast milk or formula, and if the solids aren’t given in a steady flow, babies can become pretty upset. Once they’re upset, it can be even more difficult to try to spoon in the food. Imagine trying to put the lava back into a spewing, violent volcano—you get the picture…

It would also be important to note here not to wait until babies are super hungry to try to give them solids for the first time. I would recommend trying to feed the baby a half hour or so before the time of a regular breastfeeding or formula feeding. Again, think of the volcano metaphor—angry spewing…Okay, perhaps not angry, but the baby could be pretty upset if he/she is too hungry.

You’ll need a few things before you begin. It’s best to have these items ready before baby is ready in his/her seat. If your baby is anything like mine, once they learn to recognize the items associated with their feedings, they become excited and want to eat that second.

Here are some things to have ready:

1. The food (homemade or store bought)—Most people recommend only using the amount of food the baby will eat in a small bowl and keeping the rest of the food in the original jar or container. In the first few feedings, the baby will most likely only eat just a little food. If you feed the baby from the jar, the enzymes transferred from the baby’s saliva will begin to break down the remaining food, making it a watery consistency.

2. Eating utensil—For first feedings, many experts suggest using your clean finger to dip in the food and place in baby’s mouth. It is easy for the baby since he/she will still be using his/her sucking reflex and tongue thrust reflex, which are present still since the baby is used to breast or bottle feeding. Small baby spoons are the next best option. I personally like the Gerber baby spoons which have a flat, rubber eating surface, which is nice once the baby starts teething. After the baby is used to eating from that kind of spoon, you can switch to a spoon with more of a scoop to allow for a bit more food.

3. Baby Bib—The baby is going to make a mess; there is no doubt about that. Until they learn to properly keep the food in their mouths, food will dribble out. A baby bib of any kind will stop the mess from spilling onto the baby’s clothes, or at least prevent most of the mess.

4. Burp cloth/wipe/roll of paper towels—So, you think the bib will catch it all? On the contrary, the bib only catches what food goes downward. For all other messes that go on the baby’s forehead, nose, hair, chair, etc, a burp cloth (a.k.a. diaper cloth), wipes or moist paper towels will suffice for cleaning. It gets worse as the baby matures and learns that raspberries go well with almost anything—and I don’t mean the fruit raspberries….

5. Protective eye gear, rubber gloves up to the elbows, bullet-proof vest, raincoat—Okay, I am writing in jest here, but you need to think about keeping yourself clean when feeding the baby solid food. I suggest wearing a shirt you wouldn’t mind getting dirty and tossing in the laundry—you really wouldn’t want to feed the baby in your Sunday best. Remember the raspberries from #4? Yeah, imagine flying specks of pureed bananas, apples, squash, peas , etc. coming at you like they were expelled from a machine gun...kind of like paint ball, but edible.

How to Make Baby Food--Squash

Patience When Feeding Babies Solid Food

The very first time you feed the baby may be the most frustrating. You really need to have patience. The baby, as I mentioned above, may still have the tongue thrust reflex and will most likely push the food right out of his/her mouth as soon as it is put in. Keep trying. With both of my children, I would put a tiny spoonful of food along the top of their mouths. It would kind of make them push the food towards the back of their mouths.

Babies will also make many faces as they are given new foods. It does not mean they don’t like it; they may simply be reacting to a new flavor or texture. It will most likely take a few feedings with the same food for the baby to eat it sans a silly face or grimace.

You also should expect the feedings to be messy sometimes. In the beginning, babies push food out and it dribbles all over. Then they learn how to spit it out raspberry style. When they learn coordination of their hands, they’ll reach in their mouths, pull out food and drool and then touch their faces or hair.

Be patient. It’s a learning process. The baby will get it eventually. So will you.

Tip: Use a Squeeze Pouch

Some babies don't quite get the spoon thing for a while. If baby is interested in food by doesn't seem to do well with spoons, try a reusable squeeze pouch. My favorites are the Squeasy Snackers. They are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and can be used by kids for a long time.

Squeasy Snackers Reusable Food Pouches

My son using a Squeasy Snacker. I reviewed these on my blog Mommy Knows What's Best.
My son using a Squeasy Snacker. I reviewed these on my blog Mommy Knows What's Best. | Source

Practice Makes Perfect!

As with all things, practice makes perfect. In the beginning, the baby will only eat solids once a day, but as time goes on the feedings will increase. Don’t give up the first time the baby becomes upset, makes a mess, or you become frustrated. Make sure once you start to fit in a feeding every day to provide your baby with time to practice with this new experience and the new world of textures and tastes. In no time you’ll both be pros—you’ll be a feeding pro and your baby will be an eating pro.

And just think: this phase is nothing compared to the toddler refusal-to-eat phase or throwing-every-piece-of-food phase...That's up next. Lucky you!


Baby Feeding Bowls and Spoons


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    • BellatheBall profile image

      BellatheBall 3 months ago

      Thanks Marissa! If we all still lived with Grandma in the house it would be easier, wouldn't it?

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Another great tip!

    • BellatheBall profile image

      BellatheBall 3 months ago

      And another tip: It is perfectly normal for baby to experience food with hands. Usually around 9-10 months.

      Stopping this process will only frustrate baby and you. Feed baby non-messy food like teething biscuits and bananas cut lengthwise and into small chunks. Also the classics like cheerios and small cut pieces of cooked fruit or veg are good for baby.

      I am a Mother of five and former Nanny.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 3 months ago from United States

      Good tip!

    • BellatheBall profile image

      BellatheBall 3 months ago

      I would like to add that a tip: The perfect time to start solid food is when the first tooth appears (Usually 6 months) .

      Remember that babies are growing fast and foods high in Beta Carotene, such as Squash, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, not only taste good to baby but help with nutrition.

      Rice cereal is recommended as a first food because it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction and is easy to digest.

      Otherwise, try barley.

    • profile image

      Cheri Oggy 2 years ago

      I can't believe all of the nifty baby foods out there since I had babies (34 years ago).

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      tonyfischer, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

    • tonyfischer profile image

      Tony Fischer 6 years ago from Southeastern Michigan

      This would be a great read for a new parent. No one ever teaches you this stuff! I have a 1 and 4 year old so I enjoyed reading your hub. I found you on twitter so I will also follow you there.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      teamrn, sure! I was just looking at your hubs. :)

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 6 years ago from Chicago

      yqw, may I follow?

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      teamrn, I really, really appreciate your comment. I'm glad I was able to make you laugh, and I'm honored you think it was worthy of Parent's magazine. Thank you very much for reading! :)

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 6 years ago from Chicago

      practical, i don't have children, another story, and usually I steer away from writing about children. But, justateacher made me wonder and your passion for your subject material shines through and made me forget the ache for just a while. I laughed and found your Hub worthy of Parent's magazine!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      prektjr.dc, I hope your grandbaby's mommy is able to find some useful tips for feeding solids here. I wish her all the luck! Sometimes it just takes practice-lots of practice-for a baby to like the idea of solid foods. Thanks for commenting!

    • prektjr.dc profile image

      Debbie Carey 6 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Good hub with lots of practical advice! My newest grandbaby is 6 months and has NO interest in solid foods! I will definitely recommend this hub to his Mommy, she may find some ideas for conquering it with him! Thanks for another hub well done! Love the pics and video clip! Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      Melovy, you said it: trust your instincts. Isn't that what parenting is all about? Of course it's important to consider recommendations by your doctor, but only you know what is right for your baby. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 6 years ago from UK

      Interesting hub, which I think would be reassuring to parents embarking on this for the first time. It would have been good to read 13 years ago when my first was a baby! :-)

      I would just add that it’s really, really important for mothers to trust their own instincts on whether their baby is ready for solids, and not to feel pressured into starting because other people say it’s time. Needless to say, I didn’t follow this advice 13 years ago: we moved to another city as my daughter reached 4 months, and my instinct had been to wait until we were settled in the new house, but so many people told me her poor sleep was because she was hungry that I caved in and started solids. The result was a baby who would eat nothing but baby rice, which led to a bad case of constipation - and she still didn’t sleep! She was very sensitive to what was going on around her, and to parents’ feelings, and I really knew that all along but didn’t trust myself enough.

      So trust your instincts, If you’re relaxed about it, your baby will be too.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      That's a good tip, denise.w.anderson! Thanks for sharing and for reading!:)

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 6 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Great tips! Something that I found helpful on those first feedings was to have the baby sit on my lap with one arm behind me and me holding the other. That kept them from putting their hands in the food.