Introduction to Feeding Solid Foods

(Beginning solids for 4-6 month olds)

So far your child has only had a liquid diet, so getting used to solids will be a new skill to acquire. For liquid intake the baby pushes the tongue out against the nipple, now they will need more coordination to take food in with the tongue instead. They are usually not ready for this step before 4-6 months of age. Signs of readiness to watch for are:

  • Sitting with help and able to hold the head steady
  • Interest in other family members eating behavior—watches the spoon go to the mouth, back and forth like a tennis match, reaches/grabs for the spoon of others.
  • Dissatisfaction with formula or breastfeedings only, consistently taking 32 oz/day or more

1.) To begin feedings start with single grain rice or oatmeal cereal flakes. Mix a small amount of the cereal flakes with breast milk or formula.

2.) Place baby in an infant seat or other stable seat where they are well supported. Feed cereal bite with a small spoon. The baby will likely spit it back out, but this does not mean they don't like it. It is merely that they aren't used to anything with texture. Scoop the cereal off the face with the spoon and feed it to the baby again. It may take several tries for each bite.

3.) Keep feeding until the baby either starts crying or is looking away/trying to get away from the spoon. Fight the temptation to make the baby finish the entire amount. This is not important; you are merely beginning the experience. Each time you feed you can add a few more of the flakes to make the mixture thicker and more cereal-like. This will help the baby tolerate more texture gradually.

4.) Pick a same time every day when you are unhurried and able to enjoy the experience. The best time to try is when the baby is neither full nor hungry, usually halfway between bottles or nursing sessions. That way he/she won't be too full to be interested and/or too hungry to have the patience for it.

5.) At this time a sipper cup with water can be offered, to begin the experience of learning to drink from a cup too. It takes practice, but if they are ready for solids they are also ready for this new step. When the baby gets practiced at this skill, remember to offer breast milk or formula also to get them used to taking that from the cup.

6.) After daily feedings of cereal for a week, begin introducing other pureed solids. Introduce only one new food every 3-4 days so that you can watch how the baby tolerates it. After offering a few selections of vegetables start introducing a variety of fruits.

7.) Once you establish that the baby tolerates a food, you can vary the baby's choices from among the tolerated foods every day. Think of the cereal as the main dish and the other foods as side dishes. Prior to 6 months feed solids once a day, at 6 months start feeding 2 meals a day.

8.) Have fun! And be sure to have a camera handy, since the faces the baby will make as they experience new tastes are fun to catch on film!