What is the best baby food to start with? This is a question we all find ourselves asking right around the time our babies hit the 4-6 month mark. We want to make sure we’re giving our tiny tots an opportunity to develop a diverse palate, but at the same time, we need to make sure we’re not feeding them anything that could make them sick (or trigger allergies). Tina Smith of BabyMonitorLab shares her insights on starting babies on solids, what to feed your baby in the beginning and more. Read on for her tips!
Starting Solids: Choosing Your Baby’s First Foods
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Like many parents, you’re probably excited about the idea of starting your baby on solid food. Before you know it, your little one will be sitting at the table with you, enjoying the same foods as the rest of the family. These early food experiences will begin shaping your child’s palate and developing their tastes for the rest of their lives! That means that you want to get your little one started off on the right foot with the best first foods available.
When to Start Solids
Starting around four to six months old, your little one can start to enjoy tastes of solid foods. You may have heard, “Food before one is just for fun!” as a standard piece of advice giving to young parents. This is very true! In these early days, your baby will get all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula. Beginning the journey to solid food isn’t about nutrition at this stage. Instead, it’s about teaching your baby to appreciate and enjoy a variety of flavors and textures.
Look for these readiness signs that your baby can start experimenting with solid foods.
Choosing Baby’s First Food
- Your baby has doubled their birth weight
- Your baby can close their mouth around a spoon and move food around in their mouth with their tongue.
- Your baby has lost or is losing the “tongue thrust” reflex that causes them to push food out of their mouths with their tongue as soon as it’s introduced.
- Your baby can sit up unassisted in a high chair.
- Your baby is starting to show interest in or reach and grab for your food.
What is the best baby food to start with?
Parents are divided on what food baby should have first. Many pediatricians still recommend a single-grain cereal as baby’s first food. These cereals have a relatively low allergy risk, making them a great first food for parents who are concerned about food allergies. They’re also relatively bland in taste and can be mixed with breast milk or formula to create the taste that baby normally associates with food.
Other experts, however, feel it’s best to hold off on those cereals, which have little to no nutritional value for little ones and may create a feeling of fullness without providing the nutrients that your baby needs. Instead, they recommend that single fruits or vegetables be introduced as baby’s first food, exposing the baby to a variety of flavors and textures early in their lives.
Baby Led Weaning
When most parents imagine feeding their baby for the first time, they’re thinking about trying to hit a wiggling target with a tiny spoon filled with puree. Other parents, however, are taking a different angle on baby’s first foods. These parents are choosing to practice baby led weaning. Instead of feeding baby themselves, advocates of baby led weaning place safe pieces of food on baby’s high chair tray, then allow them to experiment with the food. At first, the baby might not actually eat much of the food they’ve been given. It may be squished between inquisitive fingers and smeared all over their face. Through baby led weaning, however, the baby is better able to express their food preferences and try foods at their pace, as well as developing an understanding of their own hunger and fullness cues and when to stop eating.
Baby led weaning allows children to eat the same foods that you’re enjoying at your table from day one. Typically, the baby is offered new foods one dish at a time, just like parents who prefer purees. Baby’s foods are also less likely to be heavily seasoned to allow baby to adapt to a few new flavors at a time. This method of weaning, however, is typically seen as being much simpler for parents than traditional weaning styles. Since a baby can eat whatever the parents are eating, there’s no need to prepare special dishes or invest in expensive baby foods. Instead, baby can eat alongside with their parents with no issues!
Getting Started With Solids
Keep in mind that at first, your baby will only eat a tiny amount of the food you’re offering. Until their first birthdays and beyond, babies don’t need much more than breast milk or formula to meet their nutritional needs. The purpose of giving solids isn’t to fill them up, though some babies will take to solids quickly and have no trouble getting nutrition that way.
Focus on slowly introducing a variety of foods to your baby. Waiting a few days in between new foods will allow you to determine any allergies or sensitivities your baby may have. It’s important, however, to introduce your baby to a rainbow of foods in order to encourage healthy eating as they approach those picky toddler years. Foods that baby is exposed to now are more likely to become favorites!
In addition to the mentioned foods mentioned above, here are Top 5 Healthy Foods for your baby once he/she starts eating solids.
Top 5 Healthy Foods Once Baby Starts Eating Solids
Avocados are actually a fruit, but most of the parents consider it as a vegetable. They have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in healthy fat which helps the body to prevent heart disease. Try to only serve it a little at a time because they can make your baby feel full very quickly because of its high level of fat.
Squash is sweet and has a creamy texture which makes it the baby’s favorite. It is also a great source of vitamin A and C.
Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, iron, fiber, folic acid and potassium. All these nutrients are very important when a baby starts eating solids.
They are one of the most used foods for babies because they are full of carbohydrates. fiber and have a naturally sweet taste, which babies like a lot. Try not to give a lot of bananas right way to your baby because once he/she get used to a lot of sweet taste, he/she will not accept eating foods with no sweet taste such as broccoli.
- Dark Leafy Greens and Vegetables
Leafy greens are a great source of folate and iron. Spinach is also a great source of iron and other nutrients, which are all vital for a baby when he/she starts solids.
Your baby’s first foods are an exciting experience for the entire family. Try to feed your baby as many green products as possible because it is much easier to get used to healthy eating habits at an early stage. By choosing the foods carefully, you’ll be able to encourage your baby on a journey to healthy eating that will last a lifetime.
Tina Smith is a full-time teacher and part-time blogger who loves writing and sharing her knowledge about babies and parenting. She tries to help new parents around the world by providing only the most useful tips and articles on BabyMonitorLab.
12 thoughts on “What is the Best Baby Food to Start With?”
Very useful post! My kids love avocados, so easy to serve and healthy
Very informative post! I started my daughter with cereal but for my son, I started with avo and bananas.
Such great information. Mine started with cereal and then we moved on to the next taste. It’s always a fun experience watching your baby try new foods.
I had started my daughter off on cereal but I would mix some fruits or veggies into the cereal. For jarred baby foods I started with the veggies first then added in the fruit flavors.
My son just loved sweet potatoes – that his go to in the beginning for some reason! He liked other things but not as much as potatoes!
I have a 6 week old and I amso thankful for this post, it has awesome tips!
These are great tips. I remember these days with my girls. They loved it when they started eating baby food!
I started with oatmeal cereal with my youngest around 4 months old. He always acted hungry. I didn’t give him a ton of it though since his main source of nutrition was breast milk. Then around 6 months we transitioned to other baby food. I personally found that my kids enjoyed table food so much better than baby food.
Both of my boys started with sweet potatoes and it worked out well for them. I made all of their baby food and had so much fun combining different flavors–such a great way to expand their taste buds.
Thanks for sharing all these tips,it’s been so long since we have had a baby in the family and with my daughter having her first in Feb.it’s time to start refreshing!
It’s been a long time since my girls were babies. I do remember buying rice cereal for them. I think that is what our doctor recommended at the time.
I love these tips. I especially love that you included guidelines as to WHEN you can start giving solid food.