Introducing food to your baby is exciting…and nerve wracking! And while there’s no “right” way to start your baby off on solid food, here are 10 tips to get you going:
- Create a safe eating environment. This means a proper high chair that is totally upright and fitted with a footplate. Aim to also create a quiet, calm room free of sudden noises that may startle your little one.
- If you are spoon-feeding, try preloading a spoon and handing it to your baby in the air vertically. Many babies will self-feed, even with spoons, from day one. Avocado, ricotta cheese, and Greek yogurt cling to spoons nicely!
- Go Big. If you are doing baby-led weaning (finger foods first), opt for large pieces of food (such as a whole banana) that are easy for your baby to hold. Move down to smaller pieces of food when your baby’s pincer grasp develops (around 9-12 months).
- Educate yourself on the difference between gagging and choking. Gagging is normal and all babies will gag during their solid journey (and many will gag for weeks as their tongues learn the feel of solid food.) An easy way to remember the difference between choking and gagging is the saying, “Loud and red, let them go ahead. Silent and blue, they need help from you!”
- Introduce allergens (and especially peanuts) early and often. To introduce peanuts, try mixing a scant amount of peanut butter with breast milk, applesauce, or yogurt.
- Know what foods are off-limits: honey (which can cause infant botulism), sushi, and foods with added sugar are not appropriate for babies.
- Hold the Salt: Don’t add salt to your baby’s food and buy low sodium products. Early and excessive exposure to sodium is thought to play a role in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
- Pump the Iron: Focus on iron-rich foods, as your baby’s iron stores from birth begin to deplete around 6 months old.
- Get Messy! Let your baby play and explore, and yes, get messy. They will be happier eaters for it and getting messy affords fantastic development opportunities.
- Explore a wide variety of food! Studies show that babies who are introduced to a wide variety of flavors and textures are less likely to become picky eaters. Check out our free First Foods® Database, which features hundreds of foods your baby can eat, all with step-by-step instructions for how to serve that food.
Happy eating everyone!