Solid Food Introduction
A guide for parents & caregivers on solid foods.
Can I put cereal in my baby’s bottle?
We do not recommend mixing cereal into your baby’s milk. This practice has been shown to increase rates of obesity and not improve sleep. Additionally, it can increase the risk of choking for the baby.
We only recommend correctly mixed formula or pumped breast milk in bottles for children under one. No juice, cow milk, water, or sugar water should be fed to infants in bottles.
When Is my baby ready for purées/baby food?
Your baby is ready to try to eat food when they can sit in a high chair with their chin off of their chest without wobbling.
Additionally, your baby should be interested in food, which you will notice by them reaching for the spoon or food when you are eating
How should I start feeding my baby purées & baby food?
Your baby’s first foods should be single-ingredient fruits, vegetables, or grains. You can buy premade Stage 1 foods, or make your own food. All purées for your baby made at home should be cooked (steamed or boiled) and puréed down to a thin soup consistency. You can use water, breast milk, or formula to help thin down the food.
Banana and avocado do not need to be cooked before they are puréed.
Thicker food (applesauce to mashed potato consistency) is for older babies (7-9 months).
Have 1-2 tablespoons of food available for your baby’s first meal. Offer small spoonfuls with them sitting in a high chair facing you. They may open their mouths for a bite, but not swallow. They may spit it out, tongue thrust, or play with it another way. If they open their mouth and lean in for another bite, offer it. If they close their mouth and turn away, mealtime is over! Think of food introduction at this time as an activity, rather than a calorie source. As they get older they will eat a larger volume of food and it will become a bigger source of energy for them.
When do I offer solid foods to my baby?
Food does not replace milk initially, so the number of bottles or nursing sessions will not decrease when solid food is introduced. A baby needs to be hungry but not starving when offered food. This means they can be offered food 30 minutes to 1 hour after a bottle or nursing. The next bottle or nursing session will happen on the same schedule as before solids were introduced.
Milk — 7:00 am
Food for Breakfast — 7:30 am
Milk — 10:00 am
How do I introduce new foods to my baby?
Offer the same food at least three days in a row to make sure they tolerate the food ok and do not have an allergic reaction. You can then offer another food for three days in a row. Once your baby has eaten a type of food for three days and done well — they can have that food again at any time, even when introducing other new foods.
For example, you can offer carrots on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and if all goes well, offer peas on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It is fine to offer both peas AND carrots together on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because you already know your baby has tolerated the carrots well and peas are the only new food.
How many times a day should I offer food to my baby?
Initially, offer food once a day. Once your baby is consistently eating 2-4 oz of purées at one meal, you can offer a second meal a day. Once they are eating two meals of 2-4 oz, offer a third meal on a roughly Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner schedule with bottles or nursing in between. Different babies are ready for solids at different times — it is ok if your baby only plays with food and does not really eat much until they are 9 months old. Whereas other babies may be ready to eat three meals a day by 7 months. It is very child and interest-dependent.
When and how should I offer highly allergenic foods to my baby?
For the past decade, allergists and pediatricians have known that early introduction of highly allergenic foods can prevent allergies, which is likely different than how you or your parents were introduced to allergenic foods.
For this reason, we recommend introducing small amounts (pea-sized) of allergenic foods starting at 5-6 months. Give the tiny amount of allergenic food mixed into a food/purée that your child has already tried multiple times and tolerated well. Do this in the morning for three days in a row. Many allergic reactions do not show themselves until the second or third introduction.
You can introduce one allergenic food a week to your baby.
We recommend introducing peanuts first to your baby as there is the strongest evidence that this will prevent allergy. After that, you can introduce the other major allergens at your discretion.
Major Allergens & How To Introduce Them
Peanut: Smooth, natural peanut butter, peanut powder
Tree Nut: Almond milk, almond butter, cashew milk
Wheat: Melba toast, farina, cream of wheat
Cow's Milk/Dairy: Plain yogurt, “baby” yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta
Soy: Soy milk, tofu, Edamame
Sesame: Sesame seeds, sesame oil, sesame paste (tahini)
Egg: Hard-boiled egg yolk mashed, scrambled whole egg
Finned Fish: Small flakes of cooked salmon or white fish
Shellfish: Fine dice of cooked shrimp or lobster
When can I offer solid or finger foods to my baby?
When your baby can stay in a sit position unassisted (between 6-8 minutes) they can be offered large solid foods such as a teething cracker, a large slice of roasted vegetable, or half of an apple. At this stage, they typically just gum on the item of food and do not take large bites. Your child should ALWAYS be observed while eating any foods to monitor for choking.
You will notice your baby will start to develop a “pincer grasp” around 8-10 months, and this is when you can offer your baby smaller foods. These foods should be in small dice (about the size of your pinky fingertip or smaller) and soft enough that you can squish between your fingers easily. Offer a few pieces of food at a time to prevent choking.