This all becomes very evident the first time you feed your baby a jar of baby food. Make sure you have your camera ready - the reaction will be priceless!
Before you jump to a jar of baby food, there are transition steps. Here's your list of steps to take to make the transition a smooth and spit-up free as possible.
How to Transition Your Baby to Solid Foods in 10 Steps
- First, is your baby 4 - 6 months old? If so, this is usually when they are ready to start - the reflex of pushing food out with their tongues begins to relax at this age. BUT...check for other signs they are progressing. Some babies just take longer.
- Aside from the 4 - 6 month age, other indicators are - is your baby acting interested in what you eat? Can they sit up (supported) and hold their head up and still? If they can't do that, they are not ready.
- If you think they are ready, start by mixing baby cereal into their formula or breast milk. Your pediatrician should give you their recommendation, but often you start by introducing this in just one feeding a day.
- When you feed solids (i.e. cereal when you start) - feed from a bowl with infant spoons. This makes sure your baby understands the difference and learns the process of taking food and swallowing. Note, however, some pediatricians do recommend mixing small amounts of cereal in the baby bottle first - especially in the last feeding before bed. The logic is that the baby will remain full longer, and you'll be able to introduce this new food as well. There is mixed opinion on this - we did it, but I'd recommend you consult your pediatrician first.
- If your baby doesn't want solids, that's OK. Simply wait a week and try again. This is true throughout the process - when you introduce jar foods later in the process, your baby may reject that as well.
- Always wait 5-7 days between introducing new foods. Your baby may be allergic to, or simply not ready for certain types of foods. If you introduce too many new things too quickly, you won't know which one caused the problem. So, introduce one at a time (make sure each one is a SINGLE ingredient), pay close attention to their poop, spit-up frequency, and wait 5-7 days before moving to something new.
- Add pureed vegetables, one at a time. Your baby might reject certain flavors - be prepared for that. For example, one of ours loved carrots, the other would NEVER eat them. Sweet potatoes and peas were favorites for both of ours. By the way, different companies make different levels of puree. You can start with very liquid purees and gradually work your way up to chunky purees. More on that below.
- Add pureed fruits, one at a time.
- Add pureed meat, one at a time. If you want your baby to be a vegetarian, consult with your pediatrician to ensure baby is getting all the essential nutrients for cognitive development.
- Around 8-9 months, offer combinations. Around 9 - 10 months you can move beyond puree and start to introduce chopped soft foods (small, finely copped, that is). Of course, every baby is different - yours may be ready at 8 months, or need to wait until 12 months. These are rough guidelines.
After this, you can start to introduce puffs, and then foods like cheerios. Ah, life gets easier and cheaper. :)
There are a ton of great references for transitioning your baby to solids. Here are a few good ones:
Momtastic has a nice chart.
And of course, BabyCenter always has good information.