Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods

Around the ages of 4 to 6 months, your doctor will tell you it's time to start giving your baby solid foods. Solid foods can be started when your baby is ready. A baby is ready to eat from a spoon when he or she can sit with support, has good head and neck control and can grasp and bring objects to his mouth.

Mealtime should be a fun time for both you and your baby. And by 6 months of age, all babies need to learn how to eat, even if they are breast-fed. This is an important skill!

You Will Need

  • Small cup of bowl
  • Bibs
  • Wet cloth or towel to wipe up spills
  • A small baby spoon or plastic spoon
  • Electric warming dish or microwave oven

How to Feed Your Baby

Picture 1 - Keep baby's head and back raised to prevent choking.
Image of preventing choking
  1. Put only the amount of solid food you plan to give into a bowl or warming dish instead of feeding baby right from the jar. Put the jar with the remaining food in the refrigerator. 
  2. If you want to warm baby’s food (it’s not really necessary), place the dish of food in a pan of hot water or a warming dish. Heating food in a microwave is not recommended. Remember to always check the food temperature before feeding your baby.
  3. A high chair may be used when your baby can sit upright and has good head and neck control. You can use rolled towels or blankets put on each side of your infant to help the baby sit upright. Always secure baby safely in the high chair using the seat strap. Never leave your baby alone in the high chair. If your infant cannot sit in the high chair without support, you can feed the baby in your lap by sitting in a comfortable position and holding your baby in the curve of your arm. Keep baby’s head and back raised to prevent choking (Picture 1).
  4. Put a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon. Let your baby taste it.  If your baby spits it out, place the food midway back on his tongue and let him swallow it. Have patience and let him learn how to swallow. Feed him slowly, allowing plenty of time to swallow the food. Remember, feeding will take time and be messy for a while.
  5. Never, ever, force your baby to eat!  If baby is finished, that’s it! Stop and try again the next day. Or, if your baby is very hungry, try to give part of his formula or breast feeding first and then offer the baby food. This allows your baby time to relax.
  6. Throw away any leftover food after your baby is finished eating.

What to Feed Your Baby

  • Baby’s first solid food can be cereal, fruit or vegetables. These foods should be strained, mashed or finely minced.
  • Each new food should be started one at a time. Whatever you decide to give first, it should not be mixed with anything.  Wait 3 to 5 days before starting the next new food.
  • If you use a dry baby cereal, moisten the cereal with a small amount of formula or expressed breast milk. The cereal should be about as thick as strained baby food.
  • At 8 months of age, strained meat and egg yolks may be started. The texture of foods can be chopped. Egg whites should not be given until 1 year of age.
  • At 7 to 9 months of age, "finger foods" may be given.
  • By 10 to 12 months of age, most foods should be chopped table foods.

Safety Tips

  • Babies under 1 year of age should not be fed honey. Honey is not sterile. It may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning in young children.
  • Make sure the lids on jars of food are sealed tightly when you buy them. Don't buy the food if the seal is broken. (If you press the top of the lid and it springs back, it means the seal is broken.) Before opening the jar, wipe the jar and lid with a clean damp cloth to remove dust.
  • Germs can grow on food that is left uncovered at room temperature. If you don't use the whole jar of baby food, put the cover back on it and store it in the refrigerator. Do not keep the opened food for more than 2 days. If it has not been used after 2 days, throw it away.
  • Use a spoon, not an "infant feeder," to feed your baby. Using "infant feeders" - those that have a plunger and nipple - may cause choking.
  • Avoid foods that may cause choking. In general, these are smooth, round foods. For example: pieces of hot dog, hard candies, nuts, seeds, grapes, popcorn, peanuts, raw carrots or pretzels.

Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

  • When adding new foods to an infant's diet, food allergies or food intolerances sometimes develop. Some common symptoms of food allergies are skin rashes, severe vomiting after eating, hives like skin rash (welts) and diarrhea. If your baby has these symptoms, call your doctor for advice.
  • When you give new foods, give only one new food at a time. Then wait 3 to 5 days before adding another new food. Other foods that baby has eaten before can also be given during this time. Try all plain foods before giving your baby mixed foods.  If a food allergy occurs, it will be easier for the doctor to know which food caused the allergy. Use the record below to keep a list of new foods and the date they were given.
Image of record

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor, nurse, or dietitian.

Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods (PDF)

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