Your baby is now somewhere between 4 and 6 months old. You’ve got the breastfeeding or bottle feeding thing down. Your little one may even be showing some interest in what you’re eating and so you start thinking about starting solid foods. For most first time moms this very exciting. For the veteran mom, this may be something you dread. As with just about everything related to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, the information out there is endless! Do I make my own baby food? Do I buy jars or pouches? Do I buy organic or not? What kind of spoon? What do I start with? The list of questions could go on and on!
Allow me to attempt to break it all down….
The American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that a baby’s primary source of nutrition should be breast milk or formula for the entire first year of their life. They further recommend that solids be introduced “around 6 months”. Don’t you just love “around”?? This can vary from baby to baby. Some babies are genuinely ready to start solids at 4 months while others may not be too interested until closer to 7 months. If your baby is sitting up well and has good head control, shows an active interest in foods, and has lost the tongue thrust reflex they may be ready. The may is key! An easy rule of thumb is to offer your baby a small amount of cereal or pureed fruit like apple or avocado and if they swallow it and want more, they’re ready. If they just push it back out of their mouth, gag or turn away, put the spoon up and try again in a few weeks. There is absolutely no reason to force this!! My first child had really bad reflux so I naively thought that solids would help him keep food down and put on weight. He wasn’t ready and it didn’t help. I spent at least 2 months trying to get him interested in solid food to only stress myself out (and him)! As with any other developmental milestone, it will happen when they are ready!
Once you have established that your baby is ready to start solids you’re going to need some basics:
Like bottles, I’ve tried many different baby spoons! I’ve found that small, silicone coated spoons are the most comfortable for babies when they are starting to eat. I like a dishwasher safe spoon as well.
I really like all of the OXO Tot line of products!
These Gerber soft bite spoons have also stood the test of time.
Depending on the form of food you choose (making your own, mashing what you’re eating, jar or pouch) you’ll likely still need a bowl to serve from. Sure you could always use a regular bowl but a plastic, brightly colored bowl will grab a baby’s attention. As they grow, grab, and play with their food you’ll be glad you used a cheap, plastic one and not your finest
Side note- There are some fancy suction cup bowls/plates out there but my son could throw that off the high chair as fast as I could put it down. In my opinion, not worth the money!
Unless you plan on buying Shout in bulk, bibs are a necessity. I’m personally not a big fan of the huge bibs that cover babies arms and resemble miniature HAZMAT suits or laying out a drop cloth down for every meal (that’s why we have dogs 🙂 ) I am a fan of feeding a baby in just a diaper though! But I digress… a simple, waterproof bib will do you just fine.
We personally have a standard high chair. We have always had the room for one and our dining room table/chairs just never accommodated the space-saving ones that well. But I am a fan of both. As long as baby is strapped in, supported, and has an easy to clean eating surface, find the one that works best for you!
I always like products that “grow with baby”. You’ll get more bang for your buck!
I have this one in a different pattern. It is very easy to clean and folds flat for convenient storage between kiddos.
For many first time moms, making baby food is high on their list. I did it and I loved it! It was so fun to make different pureed concoctions for my first-born. Note, I said “first-born”. My second child got good ol’ store bought. Even being a working mom, I found it easy to do! You can go super simple with your blender or food processor, or you can invest a little more into some of the baby food makers out there that will steam and puree all in one.
I have the Brezza and I really liked using it. It is small and doesn’t take up much space. It comes with easy to follow instructions, is easy to clean, and has some great accessories.
The Baby Bullet is another mom favorite because it comes with everything you need right in the box including storage containers. It also has some neat accessories as well and is very easy to clean.
Kristin has the Beaba Baby Cook and loves it as well. It is definitely comparable to the Brezza as far as function/ease of use.
As your baby progresses to more textured food this is an extremely simple, low tech option to simply mash-up the foods you’re already making for the rest of your family.
Again, I love the OXO Tot line. These storage containers are great for refrigerating and freezing your baby food concoctions! They can also pull double duty later on as storage containers for snacks and other small items.
If you decide that making your own baby food just isn’t for you, that’s OK! There are some great baby food lines out there! You can go plastic container, glass jar, or squeeze pouch. This is purely a budget/personal decision thing. I always like having empty baby food jars for organizing small objects around the house but I also love the convenience of the squeeze pouches for on the go.
So where do you begin??
Many websites and books will say to start with rice cereal or oatmeal. They are easy to digest, simple, and can be made in extremely small quantities. I’ll be honest though, I fed neither of my kids cereal or oatmeal. If you try them they taste like cardboard and both have a tendency to constipate baby. Many pediatricians (mine included) say that apple, avocado, or sweet potato are good first foods. The key to starting any solid is to stick with one ingredient at a time over about 3 days to make sure baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction and is tolerating the food well. Offer a wide variety of flavors as you slowly progress through different stage 1 fruit and vegetable purees. Once you’ve established a variety of single fruits/vegetables with no allergic reactions you can get creative with different mixtures as you move into the strained stage 2 foods and blends. I used WholesomeBabyFood.momtastic.com often with my first child as a guide for what was appropriate at what age and when/how to introduce certain foods. There are some great charts on the site for age groups and there are recipes for homemade baby food as well. She even offers insight on common food allergies. As your baby grows you’ll start to offer finger foods like puffs and yogurt melts so they can learn to self feed before ultimately offering them simple table foods. Introducing solid foods is an ongoing and ever-changing process.
Because breast milk or formula is still your baby’s primary nutrition during the first year, offer solids AFTER their liquid meal. Breast milk and formula are MUCH more nutritionally dense than baby food so if you let baby fill up on purees first they might miss out on key nutrition that they need to grow and develop! As they get closer to 12 months old they will naturally start to take less breast milk/formula and more solid foods and their eating habits will start to look more like ours.
I once heard someone say “food before one, just for fun!” and that is really what it should be! Your baby will show you when they’re ready and they will progress at their own pace. Enjoy the messy baby food stage because you’ll blink and your baby will be a picky, finicky eating toddler!