When my baby was 3 months old I began to think about solid foods. When should I introduce them? How do I get started? I found little information other than recipes, outdated rules, and non-specific directions. It’s a huge step to take and I was nervous because I felt like I had no guidance on how to go about the first few feedings.
Here is the info that have learned since starting food with my child. Hope it helps others begin without suffering the stress I did 😉
This is for people who are taking the traditional route, not for those doing baby led weaning or other methods of food training.

When to begin:
– babies can be ready for solids any time after 4 months.
– starting at 4 months does not affect the potential for allergies as was previously believed.
– “ready” means that the baby can sit up on their own (if they gag they need to be able to properly spit food out), they no longer or are losing their tongue reflex that pushes food out, are interested in others eating, and may simply seem to require more than breast milk or formula to be satiated.
– food should be started by 6 months as babies run out of their iron stores and need food to provide more.

What do you need (including making your own food):
– a small container, and a soft spoon. A shot glass actually works well for mixing the small amounts. Metal spoons are hard on gums.
– a food processor or hand blender. Boil or roast fruit or vegetables then puree~ simple! You can also cook meats and blend them up too. Add water or breast milk as needed.
– you can freeze food in ice cube trays. Don’t add water when preparing if you are going to freeze the food. Also remember that not all foods have a very desirable consistency once thawed. Your baby may like some foods fresh but not after they’ve been frozen and thawed (mine does not like thawed sweet potato).

How to begin:
– do not put cereal in their bottle to fill them up before bed. It is a choking hazard.
– start with something easy to digest and unlikely to cause allergic reaction, such as rice cereal.
– the first meal should be mainly breast milk or formula with just a bit of cereal added to slightly thicken it. I made it to a consistency of a cream soup.
– as you progress with each meal, with be made thicker till it is made according to the cereal directions.
– early meals are small. Maybe only a teaspoon even! Up until 9 months babies do not need solid foods for sustenance so you have plenty of time to work up to larger meals and diverse foods. These early months are for your baby to experiment with new tastes and textures.

What can baby eat:
– milk is not recommended before 1 year. Honey can contain botulism and is not recommended before age 2. Other than that you can give a baby anything! Yes, even nuts and eggs (unless there is a history of allergy in your family or your doctor has instructed you otherwise)

– the latest recommendations advise the introduction of meat or meat alternatives as a first food.
– introduce one new food at a time and give every day for a few days. Allergic reactions do not always occur on the first try, so you want to repeat foods. Giving one new food at a time allows you to pinpoint allergies.
– I give new foods only early in the day. In case there is a reaction, I want it to happen when my doctor’s office is open, not late at night where I would have to go to the ER. Though keep in mind, not all reactions are immediate. They can happen hours later.
– focus on foods you commonly eat. The sooner you’ve tried the foods in your pantry the sooner your baby can eat the same meal as the rest of the family~ saving you the time of making special meals!
– try not to introduce all sweet foods first. It makes it hard to get baby to try some of the less palatable foods later.

Other:
– babies may take breaks from solids, so do not worry if this happens. They do this often when sick. Just offer the breast or bottle more frequently.
– a big worry for parents is allergies and how a child may react. Severe allergic reactions almost never occur the first time. Most first symptoms are rashes, itching, etc.
– go organic if you can. Babies eat so little that it’s not a huge cost to buy organic for them even if you don’t do it for yourself. At the very least I’d make sure to go organic for the dirty dozen.

Good luck with feeding those kiddies! Once you get started, exploring solids with your child is a lot of fun!