Last updated: February 6, 2024

Just as you’ve got this whole feeding schedule down with your baby, it feels like you blinked and it’s time to start solids. One of the first questions you will probably have is:

When to start solids for a baby?

As a mom of 3, I am here to help solve this question for you. And after you figure out when to start solids with your infant, more questions will probably come up like:

  • How much solid food should I feed my baby?
  • What does a solid food feeding schedule look like?
  • What is the best first baby food?

Starting solids and trying new foods is one of my favorite steps during the first year. I’ve always found it fun to see my baby’s face as she tries out a new food. But, this new adventure means a change in routine, which is not always the easiest thing to navigate as parents.

Like many people, my first instinct was to Google starting solids, but what I found was all sorts of conflicting advice. It can be really confusing to know what to do.

Since I have been through starting solids three times now, I put together this post so you can find out when to start solids and how to start solids with your baby.

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post. Read my privacy & disclosure policy at the bottom of this page to learn more.

When To Start Solids For a Baby

The age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for starting solids is around 6 months old. On the other hand, some other organizations have a slightly earlier recommendation of starting between 4-6 months.

With that said, it is agreed upon to NOT start solids before your baby is 4 months old. As long as your baby is at least 4 months old I recommend looking for readiness signs. The two signs I used to determine if my babies were ready to start solids included:

  • They could sit up with support
  • They have been staring at the food I was eating by following it from the plate into my mouth

When To Start Solids For a Breastfed Baby

The age to start solids for a breastfed baby is the same as the age discussed above. This would mean you can start at 4 to 6 months old and look for readiness signs before you start.

When To Start Solids For a Premature Baby

If your baby was born prematurely, the timing for starting solids might be adjusted slightly. It really depends on your child and where he is developmentally. If your child’s unadjusted age is in the 4-6 month range and he is showing typical signs of readiness, it’s okay to start solids.

On the other hand, if your child is not showing readiness signs and was born preterm, it’s okay to wait until your baby is near 6 months for his corrected age. You just don’t want to wait more than 3 months past your baby’s corrected age to start.

When To Start Solids For Baby Led Weaning

If you are interested in using baby led weaning, then it is recommended to wait until at least 6 months old before proceeding. Your baby will need to be able to grasp food and put it to their mouth to use this method.

Signs It’s Time To Start Solids For a Baby

In addition to sitting with support and watching your food you are eating, you can also look for the following signs that your baby is ready to try solids.

  • Has good head and neck control
  • Reaches out for food
  • Opens mouth when you put a spoon near it
When and how to start solids with your baby.

Step-By-Step Starting Solids Guide

Once you have determined that your baby is ready to start solids and you want to get going, here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

1 – Choose The Type of Baby Food You Will Use

There are a couple decisions to make when starting solids. First, you will want to decide if you will use store bought baby food or make your own.

I will say in my case, I used store bought baby food. The reason I chose to use baby food from the store was for convenience. 

I just did not have much interest in making my own baby food. If you think you will be making your own baby food I highly recommend the NutriBullet. This little device will puree foods for you and it will make your busy life that much easier.

2- Traditional or Baby Led Weaning?

The second decision you might find yourself making is if you will want to try baby led weaning. With baby led weaning, you skip the baby food purees and go straight to finger foods.

Since I did not use this method, I can’t really share much on this topic. I have heard from other mom friends that they really liked the baby led weaning method. So, pick the method that you think will be best for your baby.

3 – Get What You Need

It’s not all that much stuff, but you will need the following gear in preparation for starting solids with your baby.

4 – Choose The First Food

The next step is deciding which food you want to start your baby on. If you plan to buy baby food you can either start with baby cereal or a bland vegetable like sweet potatoes. In our house we started with this single grain oatmeal cereal and my kids loved it. 

We chose to single grain oatmeal cereal as the first food because our pediatrician recommended it. More specifically, she recommended oatmeal over rice cereal due to studies showing high levels of arsenic in rice.

I also want to point out that when you buy baby food, make sure you are getting the starter level. For example, Gerber has 1st foods, 2nd foods, and 3rd foods. The 1st foods are smoother purees than the 2nd or 3rd foods and it comes in a smaller container.

5 – Understand the New Feeding Schedule

Another area I struggled with was when to feed solids. By 4-6 months old you are in a good feeding routine with your baby. Now, you need to figure out how to fit in a feeding of solid food.

You will want to introduce solids at a time when your baby is not starving and not tired. I found the best time for this was 1-1.5 hours after a nursing or bottle feeding session. Just make sure this is not going to overlap with the start of nap time.

Here is an example schedule to reference when you first start introducing solids:

  • 7:30am – Breastfeed or bottle feed
  • 10:30am – Breastfeed or bottle feed
  • 11:30am – Solid food feeding
  • 2pm – Breastfeed or bottle feed
  • 4:30pm – Breastfeed or bottle feed
  • 6:45pm – Breastfeed or bottle feed
  • 7:15pm – Bedtime

6 – Know How To Feed Solids To Your Baby

If you do decide to start with baby cereal there is a small amount of preparation involved. The first time you give the cereal you will mix it to a consistency closer to breast milk or formula rather than an oatmeal consistency. The cereal will be very, very soupy.

If your baby will not take the cereal you initially offer, try adding more liquid. If your baby is breastfed, you will want to mix breast milk into the cereal. And if your baby is formula fed, you can put pre-mixed formula into the cereal.

Eventually you might be able to transition to just using water for mixing with the cereal. This is what we did for feeding solids to our twins. On the other hand, our breastfed singleton never liked the cereal unless we used breast milk for mixing.

Now it’s time to finally feed your baby! Put your baby in his high chair and put a bib on him. Now, put a very small amount of food on a baby spoon and try to offer it.

Hopefully, your baby will try to take the food. If not, take a break and then try again. If you are using baby cereal you can try adding more milk to it.

7 – Understand When To Stop Feeding

One of the things I struggled to find information on was how much food I should feed at a time. I had an especially hard time figuring out how much to give during the first month of starting solids.

Well, I came to find out the lack of information is due to each baby being so different. Plus, the amount your baby eats can vary widely from one day to the next. 

The best advice I can give is to let your baby guide you. If she’s hungry she will eat and she will give you signs when she’s full.

If your baby is full she will eat more slowly and turn her head away from the spoonful of food when you offer it. These were always the biggest signs for me that it was time to stop feeding.

8 – Try Again (If Needed)

As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed…try, try again. Be sure to offer foods at least a handful of times before deciding your baby doesn’t like them. You can also try the same food in a different form, sometimes it’s a texture problem instead of a taste issue.

9 – How To Introduce New Foods

It is important to note that once you start introducing solids, you should wait 2-3 days before introducing a different food. The reason for this is to monitor for any allergic reactions.

I thought I would point this out because it’s important to consider this when you are either buying or making baby food. You do not want to end up with too much variety to start. A great solution for staying organized with which foods your baby has tried and liked (or not liked) are these Baby Food Trackers!

Additionally, you can refrigerate leftover baby food for about 2 days before you need to throw it away. This is good to know because (especially in the beginning) you might find yourself only using half a container per feeding.

The last thing I want to point out about introducing new foods is when to move on from baby cereal (if you decide to start with this). What worked well for our family, was to continue feeding baby cereal for one meal.

Then, when we were ready to introduce a second solid meal, we introduced a vegetable. From here, we would introduce a new food every 2-3 days.

10 – Enjoy

Last but not least, take the time to enjoy this stage with your baby. Seeing babies try new flavors is so much fun. They make the cutest and funniest faces.

I recommend taking a video the first time you feed solids to your baby. I took one for each of my three children and it was a great memory to capture.

Hopefully you will be able to enjoy this big milestone in the first year of your baby’s life. There are so many challenges during the first year, but I always found starting solids to be a lot of fun.

Is your baby ready to start solids yet?

I hope this post has answered some of your questions surrounding when to start solids and how to start solids with your baby. In the end, remember to do what works for you.

There are is a lot of information out there. Should you start solids at 4 months? 6 months? Should you try baby led weaning? Should you make your own baby food?

In the end, you will decide what you think is best for your family and it’s good practice to choose the path that is the least stressful for you. If you’re still just not sure what to do, you can always seek the advice of your pediatrician. Good luck and have fun with it!

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