Starting Solids? 10 Common Questions
Do you think your 4 month old baby might be ready to start solid food? Beech-Nut® has been making baby food since 1931, and our consumer care team has heard many common questions from moms & dads over the years! Read below for our top 10 FAQs about introducing your baby to solid foods like cereals and purees. Of course, every baby is different, so consult your pediatrician with any questions.
1. How do I know if my baby is ready for solid food?
Before starting solids, your baby should show these signs:
- A diminished tongue-thrust reflex – babies are born with the instinctive need to push everything out of their mouth with their tongues. If this reflex is still present, it will be difficult for your baby to swallow food.
- Sitting up with support
- Holding their heads up
Additionally, they should show interest in foods by doing at least one of the following:
- Reach for food
- Track food from your plate to your mouth
- Lick their lips when you’re eating
- Open their mouth for food
- Try to eat your food
If your baby shows all four signs, he/she’s ready to try solids! If she only shows one to three signs, he/she’s close, but not quite there. Check your baby’s progress each week, noting when they show a new sign of readiness.
2. What foods should I start with?
Single-ingredient purees are great for introducing your baby to solid foods. Many parents recommend starting with veggies first so that baby doesn’t quickly develop a taste for sweeter foods. Start with veggies that have a smooth, runny texture – try green beans or butternut squash. Thicker veggies like spinach puree or sweet potato could be a great next step, too!
3. I’m afraid my baby might be allergic to something new.
Food allergies are a common concern for new parents, and there is a lot of confusion on how to introduce new foods to children. Generally, you should start with one new food at a time so that you can judge baby’s reaction to each. Read some of the most common questions on food allergies in this article from our pediatric expert, Eileen Thomas, RDN, CSP, LD, Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition.
4. Begin with single foods, but don’t give up if baby doesn’t like each at first
Start with single ingredient purees like our Stage 1 options, but don’t give up if your baby doesn’t seem to like the food’s flavor right away. It can take up to a dozen times for your baby to accept a new flavor.
5. Add iron
If your baby has been exclusively breastfed to this point, consider finding ways to supplement their diet with iron rich foods (like Beech-Nut® rice or oatmeal). Also consider adding protein and iron-rich meats like our Stage 1 chicken, turkey, or beef puree to help supplement this important nutrient that aids brain development. It’s blended to have a smooth texture; consider mixing a little bit with a fruit or veggie puree to sweeten up the spoonful.
6. Offer a variety of flavors
Exclusively offering fruits will not expose your baby’s taste buds to other nutritious foods, like veggies and proteins. Look for vibrant and varied colors to excite your baby’s senses. Variety is key – let the rainbow of Mother Nature’s treats be your guide.
7. Remember, a “meal” might just be a few bites
Remember, a “meal” at a young age like 4 months is just a few small bites. At this stage, your baby is likely still getting most of their nutrients from breast milk or formula. Solid feeding will introduce your baby to new textures, tastes, and ways of eating but don’t worry if they are full after a few small bites.
8. How can I tell if my baby is full?
Signals your baby is full include:
- Turning head away as you bring the spoon to their mouth
- Fussing or squirming to try and get out of a highchair
- Pushing things away like your hand, the spoon, jars or pouches
9. What’s better – a jar or a pouch?
Purees can be found in jar or pouch form (though, currently only jars are eligible for your WIC™ benefit). You can spoon feed your baby using a puree jar or pouch, just be sure to use a small baby spoon that is rubber coated or made of BPA-free plastic.
10. Should I make my own purees?
Homemade baby food is more or less this simple: bake or steam fruits and veggies until they’re tender. Puree in a blender (or whatever you’re using) until you get the right texture for your baby, adding water or breast milk to thin if needed. Serve it right away (check the temperature and make sure there are no lumps or choking hazards) or pour into ice cube trays & freeze to re-heat later on. Take a look at our recipes for banana puree or spinach, zucchini & peas puree for some inspiration!
Our Beech-Nut® Naturals and Organics purees are made with real ingredients, gently cooked. We use indirect heat to cook our real food and this gentle process helps preserve color, flavor, and nutrients. So even if you’re pressed for time (roasting veggies can be particularly time-consuming, or you might not be happy with the quality of produce near you at certain times of the year), consider picking up a jar of Beech-Nut® instead!
Questions? Reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram to chat more with our experts!