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8 Most Common Baby First Foods

When it comes to starting your baby on solids, a question parents ask themselves (aside from how and when to start) is, “What foods should I start with?” After all, your baby hasn’t tasted anything but breastmilk or formula up to this point; whatever foods you offer first are going to have a big impact!

There are a few rules when it comes to what foods you should feed your baby first. Avoid any allergenic foods (like milk, eggs, tomatoes, nut butters, etc.) Think about textures, too; whatever foods you start your baby on should be smooth, runny, and pretty lump-free. So raw carrots are out. 😉 And you’ll want to start with foods that are easy for your baby to digest. Avoid things that’ll cause gas (like broccoli) or that are highly acidic (like tomatoes and strawberries).

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 most common “first foods” for baby, along with a few words about each. This list is in no particular order. What’s more, this list isn’t meant to be a rigid, inflexible guide; you don’t have to start with these foods! Simply use this list as a guide to help you create the “menus” for your baby’s first few weeks of  meals.

  1. Rice Cereal

    This is the #1 most common first food for babies, for a few reasons.  It’s bland, so babies usually don’t reject it based on its taste.  Its texture makes it easy for babies to swallow.  And it’s easy to digest, making it a good first option.

  2. Oatmeal Cereal

    Once babies have mastered rice cereal, many parents move on to oatmeal.  Like rice cereal, oatmeal is fairly bland and smooth.

  3. Applesauce

    Applesauce is smooth and easy to swallow, making it a good first food.  And since babies tend to prefer sweet flavors, it’s usually a baby favorite 🙂  Plus, it’s easy to find sugar-free applesauce at the supermarket, making it an inexpensive choice.

  4. Bananas

    Many parents love the convenience of serving mashed bananas — they’re easy to mash, and since they’re already soft and don’t need cooking, they provide a great way to feed your little one fresh fruit.  What’s more, bananas are easy for tiny tummies to digest.

  5. Avocados

    Avocados are great first foods for many of the same reasons as bananas — they’re easy to mash, they’re soft and easy to eat when they’re fresh, and they’re highly digestible.  And you can feel good knowing that each time you feed your baby avocados, you’re offering her heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

  6. Pears

    Pears are fiber-rich and delicious; they can also help relieve constipation and reflux.

  7. Sweet Potato

    Sweet Potatoes are a fantastic first food for baby.  They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, they’re easy to digest, and babies usually love their naturally sweet flavor.

  8. Squash

    Winter squash, like butternut and acorn squash, is delicious and nutritious.  And squashes tend to produce smooth, runny purees — all the more reason to make it one of the first foods you offer to your baby!

Of course, you can buy commercial, prepared versions of all the food above; you certainly don’t have to make your own baby food.  But if you decide you want to try making your baby’s food yourself, check our our recipes for homemade cereal, homemade fruit purees, and homemade veggie purees.

You may also want to check our our Types and Amounts of Solid Foods By Age charts, for more information on what first foods are best for your baby.

What foods did you introduce to your baby first?  Share your list of first foods below!

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How To Introduce Solid Foods To Your Baby

So you now know when to start your baby on solid foods, and you may have decided that the time is now — your baby’s ready!  Now, it’s time to feed your little one solids for the first time.  But that can be easier said than done.  How should you introduce solids?  What foods should you begin with?  Cereal?  Fruits and Veggies?  Help!

Introducing Solids:  What Should Be Your Baby’s First Foods?

When it comes to introducing solids, infant cereals (particularly rice cereal) are traditionally recommended as the best first foods for baby.  These make great starting foods because their texture is soft and smooth, and their taste is fairly bland.  They can also be mixed with formula or breastmilk, making their flavor familiar to baby and making the transition to solids even easier.  Finally, infant cereals are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and they’re fortified with iron (something babies start needing more of around 6 months of age).

However, research has shown that cereal is not always the best starting food for babies.  Today, some health experts recommend starting with fruits and vegetables (pureed, of course), or substituting whole grain oatmeal for powdered infant cereal. They suggest that bananas, avocado, or sweet potatoes are excellent first foods, since they’re sweet (like breastmilk) and easy to mash.

In general, it’s best to delay the introduction of allergy-causing foods (see below) and start with foods that are considered safe for your 4-6 month old baby (like the ones listed above). Of course, all babies are different and we’ve heard of babies being allergic to even banana. This is rare, but you will want to take it slow with any new foods (see “4 day rule” below)!

Introducing Solids:  What About Food Allergies and Eczema?

Food allergies can make any mom worry, but you may be particularly concerned if you have a family history of food allergies or of eczema (a skin condition that can be an indicator of food allergies.)  If that’s the case, you will want to be even more careful about watching for allergic reactions in your baby or how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Regardless of whether or not your family has as history of food allergies, it’s recommended that you introduce individual foods one at a time.  In other words, don’t mix peas and carrots together if both are brand new foods for your baby.  Offer them separately.  What’s more, you should follow the “4 Day Rule”:  wait about 4 days in between introducing a new food to your baby. That will give you time to see if an allergic reaction develops, and it’ll help you better determine which food is responsible for the reaction.  And if food allergies run in your family, be especially careful to introduce foods this way. You don’t have to delay introducing any foods – the old “rule” to introduce typically allergenic foods like peanuts and shellfish after 12 months of age no longer applies. However, if you are introducing an allergenic food – especially if a history of such allergies runs in your family – observe your baby closely after offering that particular food.

Food Sensitivities/Intolerances vs. Food Allergies

Keep in mind, too, that while your baby may not develop a true food allergy, he may have some food sensitivities or food intolerances.  Food sensitivities and intolerances are more common than true food allergies.  For instance, true milk allergies aren’t that common, but milk sensitivities and intolerances are.

In addition, The symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are usually less severe than true food allergies.  For example, after eating a new food, you might notice that your baby has a night of poor or restless sleep.  Or you might notice that he seems gassy after eating something new.  These can be signs of a food intolerance.

For more information about food intolerances/sensitivities, and how they’re different from true food allergies, check out this article on mayoclinic.com.

Introducing Solids:  Should I Still Breastfeed/Bottle Feed?

Oh, yes!  The fact that your baby is eating solids now doesn’t mean you should cut out (or even cut back on) breastmilk or formula.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastmilk or formula be your baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.  Therefore, your goal in introducing your baby to solids isn’t to provide her with nutrition that she’s not getting from breastmilk or formula.  Breastmilk and formula still give her all the nutrition she needs.  Rather, you’re introducing solids in order to give her some practice at eating (and eventually feeding herself) solid foods.  To be sure that your baby’s getting enough breastmilk or formula, check out our Amounts of Solid Foods by Age chart; it includes recommended daily amounts.

Keep this in mind as you start feeding your baby solids; if you notice that he’s eating more and drinking less than his required daily amount, reduce the amount of solid food you offer and try to increase his nursing or bottle feeding to ensure that he’s getting enough breastmilk or formula.  Solid food will fill him up (and those extra calories will be necessary as he gets bigger), but it won’t offer the same nutrition as breastmilk or formula.

Introducing Solids:  Slow and Steady is the Way to Go!

A final word about how to introduce solids:  make “slow and steady” your mantra as you introduce your baby to this new way of eating.  Remember, this is a big change for your baby — her eating now involves new tastes, new textures, and new skills on her part (like chewing!)  As with anything new, your baby’s going to need some practice with eating solid food before she gets “good” at it.

So be prepared to be patient.  In the beginning, meals will likely be long and messy.  You may wonder if your baby’s gotten any food in his belly after you see how much he’s managed to smear in his hair and on his face! That’s the fun part! 🙂 Or, you may find that it takes 45 minutes to get finish a few tablespoons of cereal.  But that’s okay!  It’s all part of the learning process.  Slowly, steadily, your baby will figure it out, and eating will be more fun and less work!

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

How did you introduce your baby to solids? Share your tips!

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How to Know When to Start Your Baby On Solids

When Start Baby on Solids

When your baby was a newborn, your feeding options were pretty straightforward (though maybe not simple):  breast or bottle?  And for awhile, breastmilk and/or formula is all your little one needs to be well-nourished.  But there comes a time when your baby will be ready for a little more, and at that point, you’ll need to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet.

Introducing solids is a big step (especially for you first-time parents!)  And one of the first questions parents have about solid foods is, “When should I start baby on solid foods?”

When to Start Solids:  Signs Your Baby is Ready for Solids

These physical signs indicate that your baby may be ready to start solids:

  • Your baby has good head control and is able to sit up with support:  This is a big one.  Before starting solids, your baby needs to be able to hold her head up on her own (so that she’s able to swallow), and she needs to be able to sit up straight.
  • Your baby shows an interest in food:  Maybe you’ve noticed your little guy staring at you while you eat dinner, or maybe you’ve caught him reaching out and trying to grab that food right off your fork!  When babies begin showing an interest in food, it may be a sign that they’re ready to start solids.  (Keep in mind, though, that this sign alone doesn’t indicate readiness.  It should appear along with some of the other signs listed here.)
  • Your baby has lost the “tongue-thrust” reflex:  For the first 4 months of your baby’s life, she has a tongue-thrust reflex to protect against choking — when an object ends up on her tongue, she automatically pushes it out of her mouth.  After 4 months, your baby gradually loses this reflex, so that when you put a spoonful of food in her mouth, she’s able to swallow it.
  • Your baby attempts to mash or chew food:  When you put food in his mouth, your baby should automatically mash it with his gums.  If he does, it’s a sign that he’s ready for solids.
  • Your baby lets you know when she’s full:  You may notice that your baby begins to turn away from the bottle or breast when she’s had enough.  This is a sign that she’s able to self-regulate her appetite, which is an important step in being ready to start solids.

When to Start Solids:  What age?

Of course, the calendar can be (and traditionally has been) an indicator of when it’s time to start solids.  Parents (as well as healthcare providers) consider a baby’s age when deciding if it’s best to start solids.  This can be misleading, however, since age recommendations for starting solids have changed over the years.

Decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for moms to start their babies on solids at a very young age — 1 or 2 months old!  Over the years, however, as medical and nutritional sciences have evolved, moms have been encouraged to wait a little longer before starting solids.  Over time, 4-6 months of age has become the recommended starting place.

Recently, however, the window for starting solids has been pushed back even further; now, experts recommend starting solids closer to 6 months, if possible (some even recommend waiting to start until after 6 months).  There are a number of reasons for this recommendation to delay solids, including:

  • Decreasing the risk of food allergies.
  • Decreasing the risk of future obesity.
  • Decreasing the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Allowing the baby’s immune and digestive systems more time to mature.

When to Start Solids:  Is “My Baby Seems Hungry” A Good Reason to Start Solids?

So we know some of the signs a baby may show indicating she’s ready to start solids.  And we’ve established the age when it’s best to start (around 6 months).  But often, the number one reason a parent considers starting solids is simply because baby seems hungry.  The baby may begin waking more often at night, or demanding to be nursed/bottle fed more frequently than usual.  This often starts to happen around 4 months of age, and it may seem like a sign that the baby isn’t getting enough to eat and needs something more.

Be cautious about using this as a reason to start solids, however.  Keep in mind that many babies experience a growth spurt around 4 months of age, so that could be the reason your baby is suddenly waking up hungry at night, or needing to nurse more frequently during the day.  Growth spurts don’t last long (around a week or so), so it’s best just to wait these out, before starting your baby on solids.

We need to remember, too, that the famous 4 month sleep regression occurs at this time, too.  So it’s possible that the sudden night waking has nothing to do with hunger and instead has to do with the fact that your baby’s sleep patterns are becoming more like an adult’s.  In this case, starting solids early wouldn’t help your baby sleep, simply because it’s not hunger that’s causing her to wake in the first place.

Based on this, it’s best to avoid starting solids before 5 or 6 months of age, even if your baby seems hungrier than usual around 4 months.  Instead, we recommend that you increase your nursing, or offer more bottles during the day and continue to feed as necessary at night.

Everything You Need To Know About Starting Solids – All In One e-Book!

thumbnailWhat if you could find everything you needed to know about starting your baby on solid foods – when it’s best to start solids, how to introduce solids, complications, food allergies, etc. – in one easy-reference guide? Now you can! Your Baby’s Start To Solid Foods: A Comprehensive Guide will walk you through every step of starting solids. Plus, your e-Book package includes several bonus materials, designed to maximize your success in starting solids. You’ll get a thorough guide to treating constipation, a dietitian’s advice on how to avoid 5 common solid-foods mistakes, and a weekly mean plan for your baby’s first year. Grab your e-Book today, and ensure your baby has the healthiest possible start to solid foods!

When did you start your baby on solids?  How did you know your baby was ready?  Share your story!

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