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.
After you figure out when to start solids, the next questions come like how much solid food to feed your baby and 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.
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When To Start Solids
The age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for starting solids is 6 months old. While, others recommend 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 were staring at the food I was eating by following it from the plate into my mouth
Before moving on, I want to point out, that you might go about the timing of starting solids with twins a little bit differently because you will want to keep your twins on the same schedule.
Baby Food Types
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 baby bullet.
This little device will puree foods for you and it will make your busy life that much easier.
Baby Led Weaning
The second decision you might find yourself making is if you will want to try baby led weaning. What is 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.
Gear Needed When Starting Solids
It’s not all that much stuff, but you will need the following gear in preparation for starting solids with your baby.
- Baby spoons
- Plastic bowls
- Baby food (if going with store bought purees)
- Baby bullet (recommended if making your own purees)
I am still using this exact set to this day with my 2 and a half year old. They are very good quality and will last a long time for you.
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.
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.
How To Feed Your Baby Cereal
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 water-like.
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 with our formula fed twins. On the other hand, my breastfed singleton, never liked the cereal unless we used breast milk for mixing.
Feeding Different Solid 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.
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.
CHEWS – Starting Solids Tips
Now that the basics with starting solids has been covered. I have 5 tips for starting solids to share.
And, in order to remember these tips, I created a helpful acronym.
Just remember CHEWS.
When to feed
C – Choose The First Food
First things first, you will need to decide which food you want to start your baby on. Some people start with baby cereal, while others go straight for the fruits and vegetables.
Personally, we chose to start with single grain oatmeal cereal. Our pediatrician recommended this as opposed to rice cereal due to studies showing high levels of arsenic in rice.
H – How much
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.
E – Enjoy
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.
So, 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.
W – When To Feed Solids
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 bottle was fed.
Just make sure this is not going to overlap with the start of nap time.
S – Start Over
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.
Are You Ready To Start Solids?
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.
I hope this post has helped you figure out when to start solids with your baby and provided the tips you need to make starting solids with your baby easier.
And, last, but not least, remember the acronym CHEWS to help you out.