Starting Solid Foods — The “Rules”

I’ve been procastinating on writing this post because there are so many rules and I’m not really sure how I feel about any of them! I’ll share the “rules” that I learned for starting solid foods and then share what we’ve done. Please note that food is not a replacement for nutrition or breastmilk/formula until after your baby is over 1 year old.

1) Start baby no earlier than 4 months, but many pediatricians (including mine) say to wait until 6 months. There is some research that says allergy development and starting solid foods too early are tied. Another reason to wait is that baby should be able to sit up mostly by themselves and must have good head control. Losing the “extrusion reflex” is also key, which usually happens soon after 4 or 5 months. This allows them to keep solid food in their mouth and then swallow it vs. using his tongue to push food out of his mouth. Some people say your baby is ready when they show interest in food, but to be honest they’ll show interest in anything you’re doing once they can start to reach for things. I think it was great that Archer watched us eat for a few months, when we started him he was so ready and already knew how to bit and chew and drink from a glass just from watching us!

2) Start with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula and make the consistency pretty liquid — once your baby is used to eating you can increase the consistency. Rice is the least allergic food and mixing it with breastmilk or formula will help your baby’s interest and transition. I didn’t like the idea of giving my baby processed rice as his first food, so his first food was actually mashed avocado. We do however give him Oatmeal cereal every morning for breakfast. We use Happy Bellies Organic baby cereal. Other good starter foods: banana, apples and pears.

3) Start with one food at a time and only introduce a new food every 3 days. The reason this rule is in the list is to help you gauge if your baby has an allergic reaction to any foods. We didn’t follow this rule either. Reason being is we’re not allergic people and we thought if he gets an allergic reaction we’ll start over again with one food at a time. Archer did have a reaction to carrots, but it was pretty easy to identify as it was the only new food we added one day with cereal and banana (later we learned you shouldn’t feed your baby carrots until after a year, more on that later).

4) Start first feedings in the morning so you have all day to notice any allergic reactions. If you start at night you may not see a reaction. You can start with one meal a day and then lead up to 3 meals. We followed this rule and also found that Archer wasn’t as patient or interested in the evenings at first, so we started with one meal in the morning and now are up to three a day.

5) Feedings should be between each milk feeding. Wait an hour or two after the last milk feeding to do a solid feeding — baby should be hungry, but not too hungry as they’ll get frustrated at first.

6) Start water when you start solid foods. Give your baby a few sips of water when they’re eating it will help with any constipation and it aids in digestion.

7) Start with fruits, vegetables and baby cereals. There are some beliefs that you can feed your baby whatever you’re eating. We started with the basics so Archer can get the hang of eating and are slowly getting more adventurous.

8) Foods to avoid until your baby is over 10 months old (reason is these foods naturally contain high amounts of nitrates):

  • green beans
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • beats
  • winter squash
  • collard greens

9) Avoid nuts, especially peanuts, shellfish and honey until your baby is over 2 years old. Ask your pediatrician when and how to test if your baby has a nut or shellfish allergy.

10) Know what to do if your baby is choking. See my earlier post for videos on what to do.

I think these are it! Hope you found this helpful and feel a little more comfortable with starting solid foods. It’s an exciting time, get the camera out, and be ready for a sticky baby and floor!
Later this week I’ll be posting what you need to buy to start solid foods, stay tuned!
Here’s a picture of Archer eating mashed avocado, yum!



4 thoughts on “Starting Solid Foods — The “Rules”

  1. Hey Lizzie – per my mommie and me instructor – you can feed the “nitrate foods” but only buy them, don’t make them. The rationale is that the baby food making companies make the food in ginormous batches so the exposure to nitrates is null. If you make those feeds at home, and you do get a random nitrate rich carrot, winter squash, etc., you could run into exposure. Otherwise, intro your baby to them but buy them. I buy all organic for all foods and Nicholas has has no adverse affects. Another thing to note, no need to mix cereal with formula or breast milk at Archer’s age (at 4 months when Nicholas started solids, we did mix with formula but not now) especially if you mix with fruits/veggies/etc as you want them to taste the food they are eating and not be masked by the milk or formula. Just some learnings of ours…Happy eating, Archer!

    • Thanks for the info Stace! I heard the same thing from my Mommy and Me instructor about carrots, but my pediatrician said to completely avoid until after 1 year. I told her the same thing about jarred carrots being more watered down etc and she said that didn’t make sense — so we are avoiding. That said I think every other Mom I have spoken to has fed or feeds their baby carrots! Especially becauseany started food packs come with carrots. For the cereal, do you mix with water or just with the purĂ©ed food? Do you also feed it all say or just in the morning?

      • Yes, I do carrots – he really likes them! I mix the cereal with water and always add some food to it – bananas, apples, veggies, etc. He usually eats it for breakfast. We do veggies, fruits and meat for lunch (no cereal). He mows through it at daycare!

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