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Starting Solid Foods

Starting solids

Getting the timing right on starting solids is very important.  How do you know when the right time is?  Watch this video to get it right from the start, then read more below.

4 signs that a baby is ready

for solid foods

Every baby will be ready to start solid foods at a different age.  Even siblings' age of readiness can be different. So instead of starting solids at a certain age, start solids when your baby is developmentally ready.  Read about the 4 signs of readiness below.

Sitting Child
Sits up mostly unassisted

A baby isn't ready to start solids until he or she can sit mostly unassisted.  Don't try starting solids until your baby can sit in a high chair with a little support.  Your baby's tummy isn't ready for solid foods if she is not sitting up on her own.

Feeding the Toddler
Opens mouth for a spoon

When babies can sit up and open their mouth for the spoon, they are ready for solid foods.  If your baby isn't doing this yet, just wait a few days and try again.  Things change fast at this age.

Image by Juan Encalada
Keeps tongue low and flat for the spoon

Eating solid food uses different tongue movements than bottle feeding. When sucking on a bottle, the tongue pushes out.  When chewing and swallowing, the tongue stays in. In order to eat solid foods, your baby's tongue has to practice to staying in. If your baby's tongue is pushing food out, wait a few days and try again.  

Happy infant baby boy spoon eats itself.
Keeps food in the mouth and closes lips over the spoon

To be ready for solids, your baby needs to keep food in his mouth. If your baby spits everything right back out, it doesn't mean that she doesn't like it.  It probably just means he isn't ready. Wait a few days and try again. Keep trying. Don't force it. One day she will keep food in, that is then you start feeding her from the spoon regularly.

What to start with; 

How to choose the best first foods for your baby

First Foods

At 6 months, your baby needs more iron and zinc than breastmilk can provide. To prevent anemia, you need to feed him or her foods high in iron, like iron + zinc fortified infant cereal or pureed meats. 

Best first foods for baby

These foods are high in iron and zinc, are easy to digest, and less likely to cause allergies.

Light green bowl of rice porridge for ba
Iron fortified infant cereal

Iron fortified infant cereal (rice, oat, wheat) is flaky cereal made just for babies.  You stir in breastmilk or formula to create a creamy mush.  It is high in iron and will taste like the milk you make it with.  It is also easy to change textures; you can make it very thin at first and thicker as baby gets older.  It's a good idea to offer infant cereal to your baby at every meal until they start eating other sources of iron + zinc like meats, beans and nut butters.

Image by Jez Timms
Pureed meats

Pureed meats are an even better source of iron and zinc than infant cereal. You can buy baby food meat purees at the store. To make your own: cook meat to a safe temp, then puree with water in a blender.  Red meat is higher in iron than white meat. Do not use processed meats like hot dogs, ham or lunch meats. If you make a lot, you can put it in ice cube trays in the freezer and put individual cubes in the microwave when you are ready to feed baby.

What to do next:

How to advance baby to new foods.

next foods

It's VERY important to keep giving your baby new foods to prevent picky eating. By 9 months, babies should be mostly feeding themselves, with a little bit of spoon feeding help from a parent.  Don't pressure your baby, but offer new flavors and textures every day.

Prevent picky eating: offer a wide variety of foods


This video from shows how easy it is to make your own baby food. You can see from the video all the different textures you can make from 1 food.  Some babies get stuck on puree foods. To prevent this problem, only serve purees until your baby can handle more texture.  Serve thicker, lumpier food as soon as baby will take it.


This video from the Main extension gives all the information you need to make your own baby food.  Don't want to make your own?  No problem! Store bought baby food is just as good as home made.  Just make sure you offer a wide variety of foods to your baby.  


The best way to prevent picky eating later on is to feed your baby the same foods you are eating.  Do this by pureeing, mashing or cutting foods so your baby can safely chew and swallow them.  When you avoid making separate meals for baby and you avoid having a picky eater later on.

How to keep your baby safe:

Food allergies and choking


To prevent food allergies, most doctors recommend breastfeeding until 6 months, and then starting solids.  No foods should be held back, instead offer a wide variety of foods. If you have a family history of allergies, you should ask your pediatrician for more detailed instructions on how to start solids.

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