Introducing Foods to Baby: How and When

So you’re ready to introduce baby to food? Nervous? Excited? Maybe even a little sad about how quickly time has gone by? Whatever you’re feeling, introducing your little one to new foods is a fun and eventful experience; especially when you’ve decided to make the food yourself.

Photo credit: @kimberlynoelhildebrand, www.sawyerandjune.com


Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Always introduce one food at a time. You want to give a minimum of 48-72 hours before introducing a new food. This will allow you to learn about any side effects or food allergies your baby may have.
  • At first your baby may not seem to enjoy any of the foods you introduce. Their pallets are new and inexperienced. Try a new food 4-10 times before completely cutting it out of their diet.
  • Sometimes babies may not like a particular food by itself, however if you mix it with something they enjoy (after you have eliminated the possibility of a food allergy) they will gobble it up. Different foods can bring out different tastes or disguise other foods. Have fun experimenting and trying new recipes!
  • The food may taste bland to you but never add seasonings to your baby’s foods.

The first step is figuring out what your baby is ready to eat.

4–6 Months Old

  • Some people choose to introduce pureed foods to their children around 4 months of age; most decide to wait until 6 months.
  • If your baby is able to hold their head up with no assistance and sit on their own, talk to your pediatrician about whether it’s a good time to introduce foods.
  • A common first food for babies at this stage is baby cereal. However, these commonly cause constipation, as they tend to be thick and a little heavy
  • Some easier foods to digest are common, bland fruits and veggies
  • Some vegetables to try: sweet potatoes, green beans, squash, corn, peas, carrots
  • Some fruits to try: apricots, peaches, apples, bananas, avocados, plums, kiwis, grapes
  • Remember to puree the food extremely well and test one food at a time, allowing a few days in between new foods to test for any allergies.
  • Also keep in mind that your breast milk or formula is still an incredibly important source of nutrients for your baby and should continue to be the main source of food, especially if you are introducing foods as early as 4 months.

6–8 Months Old

  • After baby’s body has grown accustomed to fruits and veggies, it’s a safe time to introduce some grains.
  • Oatmeal, rice, and quinoa are good places to start
  • Try mixing some oatmeal in with their fruits for breakfast in the mornings and rice or quinoa with their veggies at lunch and dinner.
  • Remember to introduce one at a time and never at the time you are introducing a new fruit or veggie – food allergies are common and you want to recognize any weird symptoms, including constipation (which can be a common side effect of grains or a common side effect of a gluten intolerance or even celiac – be sure to keep your pediatrician in the loop and never be afraid to ask questions).
  • After your baby has successfully eaten fruits and veggies, as well as gotten used to the grains, they will be ready to try meats (still pureed).
  • You will want to first introduce meats mixed in with vegetables, as a way to avoid shocking their system – avoid meats on their own at first.

8 Months Old

  • Around this time your baby may have started teething or even have a few teeth showing prominently! If so, you may start trying out finger foods, rather than just pureed foods.
  • Be sure each piece of food is nice and small – they aren’t able to completely chew food at this stage and will most likely be swallowing the pieces whole
  • Continue to offer a variety of different foods at each meal, even though they are finger foods now. Throw in some shredded chicken, pieces of avocado, some steamed carrots, and a little rice. 
  • Let them make a mess. This is an incredibly fun and important stage in their development – both physically and mentally.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about introducing egg yolks (not egg whites just yet – baby’s system is still too sensitive for some of the things in egg whites) – this will be a great source of protein in your baby’s diet.

9-10 Months Old

  • At this time your baby should be eating extremely well on their own and have been introduced to an enormous variety of fruits and veggies.
  • You may now begin experimenting with herbs and spices – again, this is very different from seasonings – no salts, nothing that you shake out of a bottle.
  • Try mixing in fresh rosemary, mint, parsley, basil, etc. with your baby’s meals.
  • If certain spices are common in your household, discuss them with your pediatrician before introducing them to your little one’s system.

10-12 Months Old

  • This is a common age to begin introducing yogurt, cottage cheese, and regular cheese to baby’s diet.
  • Remember to stay away from soy if you are a vegan household or still avoiding dairy products at this stage, unless otherwise instructed by your pediatrician.
  • The same rules apply with dairy based products as with fruits and veggies – one at a time with space in between to check for any allergies.
  • Breads and batters are great for baby at this time as well – pancakes, waffles, and toast are great starters and easy to make in gluten free form, should your mini-me have a sensitivity.

Photo credit: @positivelyoakes

Teaching your baby how to eat table food and learning their preferences is such a fun time in each of your lives. Don’t’ be afraid to try new and different things. Eating around the same time as your child, or even just sitting them at the table with you is a great way for them to learn through watching and socializing. Eating is a great developmental milestone in your baby’s life on a multitude of levels, so enjoy the mess and chaos of this time. Remember that your pediatrician, friends, and even social circles online can be a great resource and venue for tips and advice.

For recipes and tips on meal prepping on a budget, be sure to check out our Pinterest.


Sources
Gerber
Mayo Clinic




Sondra Davenport
Sondra Davenport

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