Starting solids is an intimidating thing. Baby might not like food, the fear of choking, what is safe to feed them, the list of worries goes on and on. While I am no expert, I am a mom and a food scientist who happens to be married to a man with a PhD in microbiology who specialized in the gut microbiome. That said, we did a fair amount of research prior to starting to feed our little one. I wanted to share some information on how baby starting solids and common questions you may have.

Baby Starting Solids – 7 Things to Know

1. When can baby start solids?

Please, consult your pediatrician prior to baby starting solids. All babies aren’t the same in this aspect. However they do say between 4-6 months is the average age that babies are ready to start trying solids. Some signs that your little one is ready to start solids is that they can sit and support their head on their own, they show interest in what you are eating, and they have developed their pincer grasp. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) they recommend starting solids at 6 months or later. There are a number of reasons why they recommend waiting, but just a few include lower risk of obesity, mature enough digestive system, and baby has higher immunity when exclusively on breast milk.

Again, before you decide to feed your little one anything aside from breastmilk or formula, consult your pediatrician first. They will also review information on safety topics like food allergies with you, as well as discuss your child’s readiness.


2. What should my baby’s first food be?

This one is really up to the parent. There is a lot of steam behind the Baby Led Weaning (BLW) feeding method. This method basically uses the idea that baby feeds themselves exclusively, so you don’t need to make a bunch of purees. They only feed themselves as they are able, and they start with small pieces. Baby led weaning starts with soft foods such as steamed sweet potato, banana, avocado, steamed carrots, and others. 

If you are more interested in traditional feeding methods of baby foods and purees, many pediatricians recommend starting with an iron-fortified cereal, then start introducing vegetables and fruits. Our daughter has been a pretty good eater, and we followed a mix of both methods. We started with purees, but skipped the cereal stage and went right for vegetables and fruit purees. We started her between 5-6 months on just a few bites of carrot or apple puree. Once she hit about 7-8 months, we started doing BLW with what we were eating. We eat mostly vegan in our house, so she was getting a lot of cooked vegetables, beans, rice, quinoa, and bread. She gets cooked oatmeal most days for breakfast, but it’s quite sticky so she can eat it with her hands.

Do some research on this to make sure you area aware but also realize that whatever you decide to be baby’s first food, doesn’t need to be the only food they eat. You can give them carrot once and then switch to oat or rice cereal.

3. Food Allergies?

I’ll be brief on this since we’re going to put together a post specific to food allergies. Basically what I’ll say here is the pediatrician’s office recommends introducing allergenic foods early to help reduce the chance of baby developing an allergy to them. He recommended mixing peanut butter into applesauce or other puree, chopping up eggs into a fine size and let her try them. I’ll explain why below.

When our daughter was about 4 months old we took her to the walk-in for what I thought was an ear infection. Turns out it was just a flare up of infant eczema on her cheek that had her itching her ear. After we figured out the issue, the doctor spent a good 20 minutes going through some related causes of eczema and food allergies with me.

Interestingly, she said that new research is finding that babies who are introduced to an allergen such as peanut, dairy, egg, wheat, etc. through the skin prior to ingesting, they are at higher risk of developing a food allergy to that food. Since eczema tends to itch and causes the skin to break open, baby is at higher risk of exposure to those allergens so she was pushing us to introduce nuts, eggs, and wheat early so we didn’t risk her developing food allergens.

4. Fear of choking

I’m not sure why this wasn’t a huge fear of mine, but I have some friends who said introducing their little ones to solids was one of their biggest fears, specifically choking. Choking is a scary thought, especially since you can’t do the Heimlich on an infant. That said, there are infant CPR classes available (in our area there were options through the local hospitals), or even visit YouTube for some demonstrations by registered nurses or other reliable sources.

5. How much should they eat?

This one was big for me. Trying to understand how much a baby eats is mind boggling because you look at what they take in, and it seems like nothing in comparison to what we’re eating. A few things to note here. First off, they say that a serving of food for an infant should be about 1 tablespoon. That really isn’t much, maybe a normal bite for most of us. That said, babies are great self-regulators so if they aren’t hungry, don’t force it. If they are hungry, you can give them more. As they age, they say a serving of each food on their plate is about 1 tablespoon per year old. If you are interested in more about this, check out This is a great resource for parents on feeding their babes as well as how to help with picky eaters.

Also keep in mind that babies under a year should be getting around 90% of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula, so for those who are feeding solids, make sure you are offering your little one milk or formula first. No cow’s milk prior to 12 months either!

6. Breastmilk or Formula Weaning?

Please, please, don’t wean your little one prior to a year old. They are supposed to be getting a majority of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula until at least 12 months of age. This is what provides them with the most well-rounded nutrients, antibodies (from mother’s milk), minerals, and hydration. 

7. Foods to avoid

Though most foods are okay to introduce prior to a year or teeth coming in, there are some foods to avoid.

  • Honey – this is because honey can contain botulism spores. While the adult gut is mature enough to handle these, the gut of an infant isn’t mature enough to handle these spores, which can then cause the baby to get botulism. They say wait until at least 12 months to introduce this to baby.
  • Eggs underdone – due to the risk of Salmonella from undercooked eggs, it’s best to ensure they are well done prior to feeding them to baby.
  • Raw dairy products – There is a trend around unpasteurized or ‘raw’ milk from cows. That said, it runs the risk of bacterial contamination that has led to serious illness in children and adults. For that reason, ensure your milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products come from pasteurized milk.
  • Cow’s Milk – prior to 12 months, baby should get their liquid from formula or breastmilk with small amounts of water. If there is cow’s milk in food products, that is okay, but don’t give them cups of it.
  • Whole nuts – this presents a choking hazard in children under the age of 5. Make sure the nuts are in small pieces and can easily be broken up. In young babies it is best to introduce in nut butter form.
  • Sugary or Highly-Processed Foods – this is pretty self-explanatory, but these foods are known to cause health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

This is just a brief overview of baby starting solids. As the parent, trust your gut, you know your child best. For more information, consult your pediatrician’s office, lactation nurse, World Health Organization, American Association of Pediatrics, or other reliable sources. 

Thank you for reading, I hope this post about baby starting solids gave you some reassurance and maybe opened your eyes to some things you didn’t know.

Let me know what you thought in the comments below? Any facts that surprised you? Questions?


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