When do babies start eating baby foods?

Your baby’s first year of life is full of exciting milestones. From the first smile to the first time they sit up unassisted, it seems like they change overnight. However, when it comes eating, knowing when to start baby food isn’t always cut and dry.

Just like every other milestone, babies start eating baby food when they are ready. Some may need a little extra encouragement while others dive right in.

Introducing solid foods to your baby is a huge milestone. When babies start eating baby food, it’s safe to say that they will put just about anything in their mouths, at least once. This can be good, bad and downright messy.

Here’s what you need to know before your baby takes their first delicious bite for solid food:

From Formula and Breast Milk to Solids

Before babies start eating baby food, they only consume breast milk or baby formula. Babies should be consuming these until they are at least a year old. Breast milk and baby formula provide proper nutrition for your baby. For babies that are up to nine months, typically they consume feed at least 20 to 28 ounces of formula or breast milk every three to four hours.

Babies between nine months old to a year need approximately 16 to 24 ounces of formula or breast milk every four to five hours. Ultimately, it will depend on your baby, their medical history and caloric needs.

Implementing a regular feeding routine also makes transitioning to solids a little easier.

At first, you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for your baby, so you know when to start baby food. For example, if your baby tends to drink a whole bottle before a meal, feed them with food first and then give them their bottle. If your baby isn’t exactly a big drinker, try doing the opposite.

When Babies Start Eating Baby Food: Establish a Meal Time

Up until your baby is at least seven to 10 months old, they’ll still be dependent on breast milk and formula for proper nutrition. But when babies start eating baby food, establishing a set meal time can make the process less chaotic and stressful.

By doing so, your baby associate meal time with pleasure. They will eventually become excited to try tastes and textures of food.

Once your child has gotten used to the concept of eating and gains an interest in solid food, it’s time to start their routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though they may not be hungry, they’ll get used to eating on a schedule.

On a side note, never try to force your baby to eat. If they are no longer interested in eating, take them out of their high chair.

First Solid Foods

A common question that new parents wonder is when to start baby food. In general, there are no steadfast rules or restrictions when to start baby food. But introducing your little one to their first solid foods can be confusing.

In fact, you might find yourself asking, “What food is best, how will I know if they like it and how do I know when to start baby food?”

As a new parent, it can be tough to know when babies start eating baby food. Every baby reaches this milestone at a different time, so never compare your child’s progress with someone else’s child. Your baby will bloom when he or she is ready.

But in the interim, here are a few tips to help you know when to start baby food:

Ages Four to Six Months

Usually, between the ages of four to six months is when babies start eating baby food. Single-grain cereals are usually a good first choice. The amount of iron that was stored while your baby was in utero drops significantly by the time they’re nine months old.
This is why cereals that are rich in iron are perfect for your baby’s first solid food. Because cereal is mixed with breast milk or formula, when babies start eating baby food, they usually prefer it.

Try mixing a teaspoon of cereal with four to five teaspoons of baby formula or breast milk to soften it up. This helps your baby get used to swallowing soggy cereal. Once they’ve become used to eating cereal, you can gradually thicken it by adding more cereal and less milk.

Ages Six to Eight Months

Babies that are six to eight months old can start eating pureed foods. A common misconception is that consuming fruits before vegetables is what causes a sweet tooth. However, there is no research or scientific explanation to back up this claim.

You can decide whether or not you want to feed your baby pureed bananas or carrots. You may even be inclined to give your baby pureed meat like chicken.

Ages Nine to 12 Months

Babies between nine months to a year old have at least six teeth; two on the center bottom and four across the top. At this point, you can transition your child from purees, so you no longer have to worry about when to start baby food.

You can incorporate more finger foods that have texture while mashed. You’ll be able to feed your baby casseroles and soft rice at this age as well.

Foods You Need to Avoid

Aside from knowing when to start baby food, it’s essential that you know what foods to avoid when babies start eating baby food.

Here’s what you need to avoid giving your baby:

  • Honey – Honey may seem like something you’d give when babies start eating baby food. However, this should be avoided at all costs during infancy. Honey has the potential to give your baby botulism, or food poisoning if they’re introduced to it early on.
  • Milk from cows – As we’ve mentioned before, always use breast milk or baby formula as the primary beverage until your little one is at least a year old. Babies are unable to digest cow milk as easily as breastmilk or formula. Not to mention, it can also cause an iron deficiency due to inflaming their digestive systems.
  • Peanut butter, chips, popcorn, nuts, seed and whole grapes – These foods are extremely dangerous to children as they are prime choking hazards.

Gag Reflex When Babies Start Eating Baby Food

When introducing solid foods, your baby’s first reaction may very well be gagging. While alarming, the reaction is perfectly normal. After months of only having thin liquids, getting used to thicker consistencies takes a little time.

It’s just your baby’s gag reflex protecting them from harm’s way.

To make the transition to solid food as smooth as possible, make sure your baby is sitting perfectly upright when feeing. Never try to feed your baby when you are holding them. Keep in mind that if your baby does start to choke, they may look scared but not make a sound. It’s important to know what to look for and how to swiftly dislodge any food from your baby’s throat.

Watch for Allergies

Food allergies are common when babies start eating baby food. While some children outgrow them, all potential food allergies must be taken seriously. Reactions to new foods range from tummy trouble (think gas, loose stool and vomiting) to severe reactions like anaphylactic shock.

Thankfully, the latter doesn’t happen very often. Other less common symptoms of food allergies include watery eyes, sneezing, a runny nose and crankiness.

If your baby has the same reaction two or three times in a row, consider it a food sensitivity and try another food. If your baby seems to have an adverse reaction to every new food you offer, or if there’s a family history of allergies, check with your pediatrician before introducing different food.

Based on your baby’s symptoms, your pediatrician may recommend allergy testing.

Final Thoughts

Introducing your baby to solid foods is one of the most memorable, if not messiest, milestones in your baby’s first year. With all of the new tastes and textures that await your little one, it can be tough to figure out where to start.

Encourage your baby to encourage the experience of tasting new foods, even if most of it ends up in their hair. It’s just part of the experience when taking those little taste buds to the next level.