One important milestone on your journey as a new parent is introducing solid foods to your baby.
This moment can be both exciting and memorable for your family.
Some parents even document their baby’s first taste and bite of solid foods by taking a photo or recording a video.
But, as a first-time parent, the feeling of anxiety or being worried can set it.
A question may pop into your mind asking – “Am I doing it right?” or “Am I giving the appropriate food for my baby?”.
Since your baby cannot speak yet, most of the time you would have to rely on his/her non-verbal responses.
Of course, there’s so many was you can interpret your baby’s reactions.
At times, you would need to closely observe and use your instinct to understand your baby.
So definitely, first-time parents will experience challenges along the way when introducing solid foods to your baby.
To cope with this new phase , you have to prepare yourself emotionally and physically; and most importantly educate yourself on the correct way of feeding your baby with solid foods.
Well no need to look further!
Because this article is a guide that will help you learn things on introducing solid foods to your baby.
When should you start introducing solid foods to your baby?
From birth to six months, breastmilk is undoubtedly the best food for babies.
It is highly advisable that babies be exclusively breastfed because it s good for their health and development.
Actually breastfeeding moms can continue exclusive breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.
But take note! When babies are on their fourth to sixth month, most of them will already show signs of readiness to eat solid foods.
It will be noticed that most babies will stop doing the tongue-thrust reflex, or using the tongue to push food out of the mouth.
Instead, babies at this age learn to how to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.
Below are other signs:
- Baby is still hungry despite 8-10 feedings of milk
- Has doubled weight since birth to four months
- Shows interest in food and opens mouth when you offer food
- Picks up toys and puts into his/her mouth
- Shows head control and can steadily hold his/her head in an upright position
- Can sit up and lean forward with support. This is to check if they can already sit at a feeding seat or highchair
- Exhibits chewing motions
- Can signal that he/she is full (ex. turning away head or closing mouth)
Here are some guidelines on how to introduce solid food to your baby:
- Keep in mind that readiness for solid food intake may vary for babies. PATIENCE is the key!
- Do not force your baby to eat If at first he/she seems to rejects the food. You may try again the next day.
- You may also introduce different types of baby food to entice him/her to eat.
- If your baby continues to resist food, have your baby checked by your pediatrician.
Also introducing solid foods must not be a reason to stop breastfeeding.
For a healthier baby, you must still give him/her breastmilk while introducing a variety of food to your baby.
What are the solid foods that I can first give to my baby?
There are several simple ways to start introducing solid foods to your baby.
Here’s an idea on what to feed your baby from 6 months onwards:
Age: 6 to 8 months
- Serve different kind of foods with soft texture like pureed, mashed, ground, tender cooked or finely minced foods.
- Start with flavorless food , meaning no salt or sugar
- Food rich in iron and zinc that are essential nutrients from six months onwards can be a good start for your baby. Example of these are – pureed meat (beef, chicken, pork) , cooked and mashed whole egg, pureed/mashed legumes, tofu, iron-fortified infant cereals (rice, oats, wheat, or barley)
Age: 9 to 12 months
- Other cooked vegetables with soft texture like squash, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Mashed fruits like bananas, peaches, apple, papayas, melon
- Small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese, cottage cheese, and unsweetened yogurt
- Finger foods or small pieces of allowed foods that are soft and can be easily picked up by thumb and forefinger (ex. no salt crackers, cooked pasta, dry toast)
- Bite-size/small bits of meat
- Unsweetened infant cereal
According to Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Philippine (FNRI), here are the top 10 Best food for babies:
- Breastmilk – is the natural and perfect first food for your baby. It has the correct proportions and amounts of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to meet the baby needs for the first six months of life.
- Cereals/Plain rice porridge– can be given to the baby.as the first semi-solid After 8 months, move to thicker plain rice porridge to soft cooked rice. By ten months, your baby may share the family rice. Make it a delicious food for your baby by adding breastmilk or formula. Eggyolk may be also added .
- Rootcrops like kamote and potato – serve this energy and fiber rich foods to your baby. Mash it and enrich with milk.
- Fruits like mango, papaya, banana (especially ripe latundan at first) provide a variety of nutrients for good health. Mango and papaya are good sources of vitamin C which your baby needs to keep gums healthy, prevent easy bruising, and help the body fight infection.
- Yellow vegetables like carrots and squash – are rich sources of beta-carotene for your baby’s clear eyesight, smooth and healthy skin, glossy hair, good growth, and resistance to infections. Green leafy vegetables like kamote tops, kangkong, petsay, and malunggay are common sources of b-carotene. These foods also contain minerals like iron for healthy blood and calcium for strong bone and teeth, and fiber.
- Egg – is packed with protein, which builds and repairs muscles, and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. One-half cooked eggyolk is usually given when your baby is seven months old. Because of allergy-producing qualities of eggwhite you should wait to give it to your baby when he/she is 11 months old.
- Legumes/beans – are relatively cheap sources of protein and are good sources of B-complex vitamins and iron. Prepare mashed beans for your 10-11 month-old baby e.g. when you are serving munggo gisado to your family. Set aside a small amount of unseasoned munggo, mash it and enrich it with milk.
- Meat/Fish/Poultry – an excellent source of protein for growth and repair of body tissues, highly absorbable iron for healthy blood, as well as vitamins and other minerals, such as zinc for immunity. At six months, introduce foods with a “chewier” texture like minced or finely chopped meat, fish, and poultry.
- Other Foods like custards, simple puddings, plain gulaman or jello for extra fiber.
Biskotso, biscuits or any crisp toast is also good when your baby starts teething.
- Water and beverages – Your baby can begin learning to drink from a cup around six to seven months, water and juice are acceptable choices. Put an ounce of water or 3-4 ounces of natural or fortified juice in the cup.
Feeding juice in bottles or putting your baby to bed with bottles can contribute to early childhood tooth decay.
Fruit juice should be served as part of a meal or snack, not “sipped” throughout the day.
Your baby does not digest juice well and may have diarrhea from drinking too much of it.
Fats and oils may be incorporated to the prepared diet by adding them to the rice gruel or mashed vegetables or serve in either sautéed or fried dishes for your baby after six months of age.
By 12 months, your child can already eat the family diet.
Soft foods and processed foods fortified with vitamins and minerals are appropriate.
- Watch out for cues to know if your baby is hungry or full
- You can mix your breastmilk with the solid food you are giving your baby
- There should be an interval in introducing new foods to your baby. Wait three to five days before trying a new food to observe any allergic reactions from your baby
- Give your full attention when feeding our baby
- Make feeding time a fun-time with our baby. Expect it to be messy but don’t worry too much about it
- Allow her to explore food, but with your guidance
- You must also be aware of choking hazards when feeding your baby. Always consider the size, volume and texture of the food that goes into the mouth of your baby.
- Remove distractions like toys during mealtime
- Let your baby eat with the family on the table
- Do not force baby to eat if he/shows signs of being full
- Introduce use of spoon if you see that your baby can already manage to hold a spoon
- Use a dish to serve food. Eating directly from the food container may spoil the food quickly
- If you opt to feed you baby with store-bought vegetable and meat in jars, try to add real meat and vegetables
- Do not put cereals in bottles
What foods should I not give to my baby?
There are certain foods that can be unsafe for your baby. Here are examples:
- Honey – contains toxin called Clostridium botulinum that may cause botulism, which could fatal for babies.
- Cow’s milk and soy milk – babies cannot digest minerals in these liquids
- Unpasteurized milk
- Raw meat and vegetables meat – may expose your baby to bacteria
- Hard or crunchy foods that may be difficult for your baby to bite/chew
- Sticky foods like marshmallow, gums, jellies, cheese, dried fruit, peanut butter that can clog baby’s throat
- Nuts (e.g pumpkin, sunflower seeds) and seeds of fruits that may get stuck in your baby’s airways
- Fish high in mercury (ex. swordfish, shark, fresh or frozen tuna steak, marlin) must not be given more than once in a week
- Salty foods like processed meat or dried fish
- Foods/Beverages high in sugar or caffeine (ex. sodas, energy drink, teas, coffee, hot chocolate)
What are food allergens?
Some first foods that you may introduce to your baby are those that are classified as food allergens.
While these foods are nutritious too, it may most likely trigger an allergic reaction from your baby.
Common food allergens are – eggs, peanuts, milk, seafood, soy, sesame, and mustard/tomato sauce.
If you’re family has history of allergies, talk your doctor first.
When feeding this type of food, just give your baby only one serving in a day.
Then wait for two days before introducing a new food allergen. Usually, allergic reactions appear within 48 hours.
Observe your baby for any signs of allergies like rashes, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty in breathing.
If you see any of these symptoms consult with your doctor or if symptoms are severe, go to the hospital immediately.
How often should my baby eat solid food?
Start with once a day routine.
Then at around 7 months, normal frequency would be to eat two times a day.
From eight months onwards, your baby may start eating three times a day.
What are the things that I need when feeding my baby with solid foods?
You must have these essentials to start feeding your baby solids:
- Highchair – your baby must be comfortable in it. Get one that has a safety strap.
- Bibs – expect the meal sessions to be messy. You may use cloth or silicon bibs and others that have food catcher and is adjustable
- Spoon – for younger babies, you must use the soft ones with silicone head. Long handles would be helpful in controlling and maneuvering the spoon. It is advisable for you to have at least two spoons
- Plastic dishes and bowls – use a durable BPA-free plastic or silicone bowls as much as possible. Suction bowls are very effective as they won’t fall from the high chair
- Sippy cup – slowly introduce drinking water in a sippy cup. Make sure that it can be tightly sealed to avoid spills
- Mat on the floor – expect spills while feeding. Mats will avoid the floor to be slippery
Get more information on how to take care of your baby by reading our articles – Breastfeeding 101 A Basic Guide on Breastfeeding for New Moms