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Tips for Smooth Transitions from Bottles to Solid Foods

Mom feeding baby solid foods with a spoon

Having a newborn is a nonstop sequence of new experiences for you and your baby. The first few months are challenging; babies need a lot of care, and they’ve never heard of clocks, but at least mealtimes are figured out. For the first six months, give or take, your baby will subsist on a steady diet of breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Among all the things you must think about, what to fix your infant for lunch isn’t one of them, at least for a while.

You’ll want to start introducing your little one to their first solid foods between four and six months of age. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. Your baby has become accustomed to a liquid diet, so switching to anything more solid, even mushy baby food, can be quite the adventure! Fortunately, parents have been making this exciting transition for centuries and have picked up some tips and tricks on how to start solid foods.

When should my baby start solid food?

Babies don’t usually start speaking until about 12 months old, but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate! If you are watching, your baby will let you know when they are ready for solid foods. Here are some things to watch:

  • Body language. You will discover a magic window somewhere between 4 to 6 months of age where you will notice them take a keen interest in your food. They may watch you carefully as you eat; sometimes following your bite with their own mouth wide open. They may also try grabbing your spoon right out of your hand!
  • Independent sitting. They will often sit alone or with the support of a high chair.
  • Putting toys and hands in mouth.

In addition to telling you when they’re ready for solid foods, paying attention to body language while eating is essential. They’ll let you know in their own way when they’re hungry and full.

Remember, it takes time to learn how to eat! The tongue pushes out to drink breastmilk or formula, and it pulls back to eat solid foods. The first time a baby eats solids, they usually thrust the food out of their mouth, onto their faces and everything else! The first month or two of solid foods is just practice. They will still be getting most of their calorie requirements from breastmilk or formula, so play around and enjoy watching them learn!

What is the best solid food for a 6-month old?

It is easiest to start with bland, starchy, single-ingredient foods. Pureed peas, squash, carrots or sweet potatoes work well. You can make them at home by cooking vegetables until they are soft and blending them until smooth.

Letting your baby sample everything on the shelf might be tempting to see what they like, but a slower, more deliberate approach is preferred.

Start with one food and stick with it for a few days before introducing a second flavor. During that time, monitor for any physical changes or reactions. Single foods allow you to identify what your baby likes and dislikes, but also allows you to identify any food allergies they might have. Keep a special eye out for diarrhea, rash, and vomiting.

If there is any family history of food allergies to things like peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy products, wheat, soy, fish, etc., speak with your pediatrician before proceeding. Even if there is no history of allergies, take a cautious approach. Introduce potential allergens slowly and in small amounts, monitoring for any signs of allergic reaction.

Transitioning to baby food is an exciting milestone in your baby’s early childhood, and it will almost certainly go off without a hitch. However, a little apprehension is normal, and you don’t have to go it alone. Feel free to ask your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about transitioning to solid foods. It takes a village, and the care team at Families First Pediatrics is part of yours.

Kristi Cox, PA

Kristi Cox, PA

Kristi practices pediatrics in our Riverton office.

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