various kinds of baby food in plastic bowls, top view

When should you introduce solid foods to a baby?

The Nightingales get tons of questions from new parents — or even second- and third-time parents — about how, when, and with what products to introduce solid foods. Here are a couple of our key answers.

When should you introduce solid foods?

This varies by baby. The general belief is 4-6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends the north end of that time frame — i.e. 6 months — while the AAP’s nutrition guidelines for its members says 4 months. Your baby’s digestive system is usually not ready for solids before the four-month mark, however. We suggest waiting closer to 6 months based on our own experience.

How will you know when the baby is ready?

Your child will indicate to you via:

  • Able to keep head in a steady position
  • Weight gain to 13 pounds+
  • Can do more than use tongue to push food back out of mouth
  • Reaching for food/opening mouth for spoonful

What is baby-led weaning?

This is a newer idea developed from the UK. You give your child a slate of finger foods, and they transfer the food from their tray to their mouth. It’s very different than “Open wide for this mash!” that most parents have used, but it has benefits:

The benefits of baby-led weaning can be great, says registered dietician Clancy Cash Harrison, author of Feeding Baby. For one, it helps fine-tune motor development: “Baby-led weaning supports the development of eye-hand coordination, chewing skills, dexterity, and healthy eating habits,” she says. “It also offers babies an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aroma, and color of a variety of foods.”

It also teaches self-regulation, or stopping when you are full.

To do this successfully, consider foods like ripe fruits, cooked egg yolks, flaky fish, moist and shredded meats, puffed cereals, and cooked pastas and vegetables to start. Also remember this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — you still need to be there socializing with baby as he/she eats.

What are some mashed baby food recipes I can use?

Glad you asked. Here are 21 such recipes.

What type of bib should I get?

We are partial to BABYBJORN Rubber Bib, which comes in a variety of colors.

What cookbooks should I consider buying?

A few options:


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