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

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Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods

Around the age of about 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 minimal 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. By 6 months of age, all babies need to learn how to eat, even if they are breastfed. 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, instead of feeding baby right from the jar. Put the jar with the remaining food in the refrigerator.
  2. Heating food in a microwave is not recommended. Remember to always check the food temperature before feeding your baby.
  3. A high chair or a feeding chair should be used when your baby can sit upright and has good head and neck control. Always secure baby safely in the high chair using the seat strap. Never leave your baby alone in the high chair.
  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 the 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, stop offering food and try again the next day. Or, if your baby is very hungry, try to give part of his formula or breastfeeding first and then offer a little food. This allows your baby time to relax.
  6. Throw away any leftover food after your baby is finished eating.
  7. Your baby may be finished eating if he does the following:
  • becomes distracted when eating
  • turns his head
  • closes his mouth
  • cries
  • spits out food

What to Feed Your Baby

  • Baby’s first solid food can be vegetables, meat, fruit or cereal. 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 expressed breastmilk or formula. The cereal should be about as thick as strained baby food.
  • At 8 months of age, 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. Examples include: solid foods that can melt in your baby’s mouth, such as Gerber Puffs, cereals such as Cheerios, graham crackers, soft pasta, soft breakfast bars, soft, shredded cheese, small pieces or shredded pieces of meat, home-cooked or canned vegetables, tofu, hummus, and canned, soft fruits. Use your baby’s development to guide you.
  • By 10 to 12 months of age, most foods for babies should be chopped table foods.

Safety Tips

  • Babies under 1 year of age should not be fed honey or foods that contain honey. Honey is not sterile. It may contain harmful bacteria that can cause illness in young children.
  • Make sure the lids on jars of food are sealed tightly when you buy them. Do not 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.
  • Put the amount of food you plan to feed your baby into a bowl. Do not feed directly from the jar. If you do not use the whole jar of baby food, put the cover back on it and store it in the refrigerator. Germs can grow in food that is left uncovered at room temperature. Do not keep the opened, refrigerated 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.
  • Indications that a baby may be choking include: inability to cough or cry, blue or purple face color, grabbing at the throat, weak cough, labored breathing, loss of consciousness.

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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