Introducing “real” food to your baby can be an exciting – but also nerve-wracking – time for parents. How do you know if your child is ready? And if she is, what should you feed her?
Signs Your Child is Ready
First, you need to determine if your child is truly ready to make the transition from baby food to solid food. This important developmental milestone usually occurs between 9 and 12 months of age, and here are a few signs you can look out for:
- Developing the pincer grasp, the ability to pick up an object using the thumb and the forefinger, which makes self-feeding easier
- Showing interest in foods that others are eating
- Rejecting pureed or mashed foods
Remember, each child develops at a different pace, so some babies may show more interest in self-feeding than others. If your little one isn’t quite ready to make the leap, continue offering baby food and pureed foods like applesauce and mashed potatoes. (Need easy, homemade baby food recipes? Check out this post.)
What to Do When Your Child is Ready
When it’s time to introduce solid foods to your baby, here are a few tips and tricks to help with the transition:
- Keep it simple. Start with a single grain cereal, vegetable, fruit or meat and see how your child responds.
- Introduce new foods slowly. Wait a few days between each new food to allow time to identify any signs of an allergic reaction, such as vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Be sure to speak with your pediatrician if have any concerns or have a family history of food allergies.
- Stay safe. Make sure food is soft and cut into small pieces. Scrambled eggs, well-cooked pasta, diced sweet potatoes, chopped bananas and cheese are all great options! Avoid any foods that may be considered choking hazards.
Here’s what parents have to say on what worked for their family:
- Eat together. “At this point, your baby can start to eat some of what the rest of the family is eating. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to eat together at the table and enjoy some quality family time!” – Kim, Mom of four
- Be patient. “If your child is able to chew a new food but doesn’t seem to like it, keep introducing them to the food multiple times. It may take a few tries before he likes it!” – Dana, Mom of one
- Try a toy spoon. “Before you start introducing your child to solids, allow them to start playing with a large, baby-friendly toy spoon. It will help your baby become more comfortable with a new object coming towards her face!” – Mary, Mom of two
As you embark on this new adventure with your child, remember to be patient – and also be prepared for a few clean-ups along the way!