There is some debate about when babies should start solid foods. Even within the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) there is a difference of opinion. The AAP’s Committee on Nutrition recommends starting solids sometime between 4 and 6 months. However, the AAP’s Breastfeeding Policy Statement recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. (See footnotes regarding the difference of opinion.)
Most babies are ready to start solids sometime between 4 and 6 months of age. Before 4 months, babies lack the ability to swallow foods because they still have a tongue-thrust reflux which is necessary for breastfeeding. If you offer solids at this age, your baby will most likely just push the food back out with his tongue. Babies usually develop better oral coordination needed for chewing and swallowing sometime after 4 months.
Breastfeeding or formula feeding should be the primary source of nutrition for your baby. Solid foods should compliment your baby’s nutritional needs. Your goal is not to replace his milk feedings with solids but to add to them. Make sure that your baby gets the breast or bottle first and then solids.
Baby’s First Foods
It really doesn’t matter which foods you want to offer your baby first, but you should start with single ingredient foods. Always offer one new food at a time and wait about 3 days before trying another new food. Most parents start by offering single-grain cereals like rice or oatmeal but if you want to start with pears, avocados, or carrots, this is fine too. If you have a family history of allergies you may want to avoid introducing foods that might cause an allergic reaction until your baby is over a year old. Although research on this subject now suggests that waiting may not prevent allergies, many pediatricians still recommend waiting until your baby is over a year to introduce foods like eggs, fish, peanuts, or wheat.
Stage 1 Baby Foods
Stage 1 baby foods are the first type of baby foods you should offer your baby. Stage 1 foods have a single ingredient and are pureed. Most commercial stage 1 baby foods contain about 2.5 oz (about 5 tbsps) of fruits, veggies or meats. Since stage 1 foods have single ingredients, they are best to offer your baby first so that you can monitor him for food allergies.
Stage 2 Baby Foods
Stage 2 baby foods look pretty similar to stage 1 baby foods. However, stage 2 baby foods are strained instead of pureed and they have combinations of fruits or vegetables instead of single ingredients. Commercial stage 2 foods also contain larger portions, around 4 oz.
Stage 3 Baby Foods
Sometime around 8-10 months, your baby may be ready for stage 3 foods. Stage 3 foods, which contain about 6 oz of baby food per jar, are mashed and have more texture than the pureed foods your baby is used to eating. They may have bits and chunks of meats or veggies in them. Stage 3 foods help your baby to transition to table food.
JustMommies Baby's First Foods Chart
Print JustMommies Baby’s First Foods Chart as a guide to starting your baby on solids foods. Keep in mind that your baby may develop differently. Follow his lead and hunger cues. Consult your pediatrician for specific questions about feeding your baby.