As frequent readers may know, Nick and I love making all kinds of food, so we wanted to expose Nori to lots of different flavors and textures early on in hopes that it’ll help her grow into a non-picky eater. We introduced her to solids around 5 months, but every baby is different! I decided to write this as it’s been a highly requested post, but remember I’m just one mama sharing her experiences with one baby.
1. when to Get started with solids
We figured Nori was interested in solids when we went out for hot pot, and she gave us a jealous stink eye with every bite we ate! This Kelly Mom article outlines some things to look for when deciding if your baby is ready for solids, and I found this book to be extremely helpful with info on safe first foods, the difference between gagging vs choking, nutrition, recipes with photos, and example milk + solids feeding schedules. Of course, with any major milestone you should discuss it with your pediatrician first, in addition to doing your own research.
Like most babies, we started Nori with single-grain cereals prepared with formula or breastmilk (even some of my frozen lipase milk!). We started with a small taste of solids once a day and worked our way up to three meals daily at 10 months, in conjunction with milk.
2. SPOON FEEDing VS. BABY LED WEANING
As a new mom, I kept seeing the acronym “BLW” around the internet, and had no clue what it meant! Basically, baby led weaning is just the concept of letting your child self-feed regular (non pureed) pieces of food at their own pace. It supposedly teaches babies good eating habits, and encourages motor development with chewing and hand dexterity.
I like the concept of this but don’t like the mess and how it made each meal an hour-long production, so we did a combo approach. I would offer Nori some finger foods at the beginning of each meal, then spoon feed her some purees or mashed up foods. I’d mix in the finger foods she dropped or didn’t eat into the spoon feeding bowl to minimize waste. While spoon feeding, I encourage her to grip the spoon and help guide it into her mouth, but don’t completely let go to avoid a big mess!
3. Most useFUL feeding TOOLS AND GADGETS
These are also summarized on my regularly-updated Amazon baby favorites page!
Sleeved bibs with food catcher pocket
Hands down this is the baby item I get the most questions on from IG stories! We tried a couple of brands and would recommend Bumkins which is good quality with a string tie back, and this avocado one which is thinner quality (but adorable) with a velcro tab back. Once Nori was around 1 we switched to an easier to clean silicone bib (ours is Make My Day brand) and love it, but the silicone feels too heavy for younger babies just starting out with solids.
BEABA BABY COOK (STEAMER + FOOD PROCESSOR IN ONE)
I received the Beaba Baby Cook as a gift (available at Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Amazon), and used it a lot for Nori to do quick steaming to making batches of baby food to freeze. I have some small issues with it (like the location of the water reservoir and how easily the steaming basket gets stained from veggies). One tip is I always leave the top lid open overnight to make sure the steaming reservoir has time to fully dry after using. We also run white vinegar through the vessel to clean / de-scale it once in a while.
You absolutely do not need to buy a dedicated baby food cooker – you can steam food in a basket over a boiling pot or rice cooker, then use a blender or food processor to puree it. A benefit of the Beaba is that I can just press 1 button and walk away worry free while it steams (mom brain has been leaving the stove on one too many times!), and then chop up the food inside the same container.
Early soft spoons
We used this soft, pliable option as Nori’s first spoon, and the Beaba spoon for a firmer option (our current favorite). You’ll want to start each meal with a few spoons since one (or all) will inevitably end up on the floor! For the longest time, Nori also wouldn’t let go of her iron grip on a spoon until we offered her another one aka the famous 3-spoon circus.
This feeding gadget looks like a pacifier but with little strainer holes. Nori really enjoyed this when she first started solids (I filled it with avocado and/or banana pieces), but we stopped using it because she would slurp one down in seconds! Now that she’s teething again we put frozen blueberries and other fruit in as an icy treat to soothe her gums.
BABY FOOD SCISSORS
These food scissors are fantastic for quickly cutting bite-sized foods using just one hand, without having to take out a knife and cutting board. They also have a little safety lock button feature and a cap for use on-the-go!
4. CHOOSING A HIGH CHAIR
We bought the Stokke Tripp Trapp because it has an ergonomic adjustable footrest, looks visually nice, and can “grow” with our child in our tiny, already overcrowded condo (several of you shared that you still use this chair with your now 8 to 10 year old kids!). When we first tried it with Nori around 5 months, it wasn’t the most comfortable option because she couldn’t sit up on her own yet, but we started using it again at 8 months and it’s been wonderful since! If you’re looking into this chair, I would definitely recommend going with a set including baby kit, tray, and cushion. We never got the cushion, which I regret in hindsight as it supposedly makes a notable difference in comfort and support for younger babies.
As a transitional option, we got this Fisher Price booster seat after trying our neighbor’s. It straps on to any chair (or can sit on the floor), is slightly molded and supportive for babies who aren’t expert sitters yet, and folds down for travel. You can roll up some bibs or towels as padding for extra support. We used this happily for several months until Nori got stronger and became comfortable in the Tripp Trapp (which we now LOVE), and then left the Fisher Price booster at my parents’ house for use there.
For Rio, we did not use this – we bought a cushion for our Tripp Trapp and he started using it right away starting around 6 months
5. favorite First Foods
Some of Nori’s favorite foods she actually hated at first! I keep a food log and re-introduce her to things multiple times if she doesn’t like it on the first try. I mix the offending new food with something she’s already familiar with and loves, and gradually increase the ratio of the new food in the mix.
5 to 6 months:
- baby cereal with mashed prunes, peaches or pears. Breastfed babies need iron around 4 months and most baby cereals are iron-fortified, so we give her oatmeal cereal. We initially tried rice cereal, but there are mixed opinions on it due to traces of arsenic.
- mashed (or in the feeder tool) banana and avocado (didn’t like at first but now loves). FYI some say too much banana and cereal can cause constipation in babies.
- steamed sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash, and carrot sticks (all favorite finger foods!)
7 to 8 months:
- all the finger food suggestions from the book below, except egg & dairy
- steamed and flaked fish (nutrient-packed salmon has a fishier taste, so we eased her in with white fish)
- ground beef as a source of iron, cooked and chopped smoothly with a veggie or starch she loves
- mashed potatoes, thinned out with bone broth for protein (she is obsessed with this)
- chicken and veggie congee cooked in the instantpot
6. Drinking Water
When you start feeding solids, it’s also recommended to start giving your baby a little bit of water to help wash down the food. The Feeding Littles guide we referenced suggests starting with an open cup, so we helped her with using the cup in our Beaba silicone meal set. Recently, we’ve been using the Munchkin 360 to give her a little more independence. She LOVES water and always tries to chug it, so the munchkin keeps it from all ending up on her lap.
7. FOOD AllergIES
Talk to your pediatrician, but it seems like most are on board these days with introducing major food allergens early to help lower the risk of allergies. That is, unless your baby has eczema or a family history of allergies. Due to eczema, our pediatrician had us do a blood test for allergies at 6 months, and it came back positive for dairy, eggs, and a variety of nuts. Since I’m still breastfeeding, the allergist told me to eliminate these items from my diet, but said some babies outgrow these and that I could start incorporating eggs and dairy in baked formats around 8 months. He said it was less likely for her to outgrow the nuts allergies, unfortunately, but I’m still hopeful!
This post got lengthy, but I have some go-to “recipes” / time-saving food prep methods and tips for dining out with baby that I’d be happy to share in a Part 2 if you guys are interested! Let me know, along with any questions on topics I might’ve missed!
See more baby posts here, including our traveling with a baby series!