By our Happy Baby Experts team
Welcome! Dear parents & caregivers, At Happy Family Organics, we are always working to provide families with the support they need when it comes to their little one’s feeding journey. Starting solids is an exciting time, but with so many opinions and recommendations it can be difficult to decide how to start introducing solid foods to your baby. That’s why our team of registered dietitian nutritionists - the Happy Baby Experts - came together to create this book, offering their top tips and advice to help you make the best choices for you and your little one. We are so excited to share this book with you, and here’s to a happy and healthy start!
FROM ALL OF US AT HAPPY
SIGNS OF READINESS The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids at around 6 months of age and when baby displays the below signs.1
Baby no longer has the reflex that causes her to push out with her tongue. Instead, baby can take food from a spoon and swallow.
Baby appears interested in food when other people are eating.
Baby can sit with support.
Baby opens her mouth when offered a spoonful of food.
Baby holds her head straight up when sitting.
Baby has doubled her birthweight.
Baby can turn her head toward or away from food. Always check with your pediatrician, who knows your baby best, before starting solids. Sources: 1. American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx
KEEP IN MIND, WHEN STARTING SOLIDS: Iron is important for infants to consume starting at 6 months.
This can come from plant-based foods such as beans, legumes, dark leafy greens, iron-fortified whole grains such as pastas, infant cereals and breads or meats such as chicken, turkey, beef, and fish.
Some foods to avoid that could be a choking hazard:
Chunks of meat or cheese, hot dogs, sausages, popcorn, seeds, nuts, chunks of peanut butter, whole grapes or cherry tomatoes, hard, gooey or sticky candy, chewing gum, raw vegetables or fruit chunks.
It is not recommended to add sugar or salt to baby's food.
Breast milk, formula, and solids provide all of the naturally occurring sugar and salt your baby needs in a day.
Water can be introduced at 6 months.
Only about ½ cup (4 oz) is recommended per day, increasing if needed to up to 1 cup (8 oz) per day as baby gets closer to one year. Offer water in a toddler cup or sippy cup to help create long term healthy habits.
GETTING READY TO START SOLIDS
These days there are few rules about how to introduce specific foods. It’s more important to be sure you are giving baby the right texture she will be able to swallow safely for her stage of development, and that you are introducing a wide variety of foods – starting solids is a key time to influence eating habits later in life!2
HERE ARE SOME FOOD IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED Start with 1-2 tbsp one to two times per day. Work up to 2-4 tbsp two to three times per day. It’s important to advance texture once your baby is comfortable. Start with thin, pureed foods. Next, move to lumpy, mashed foods, followed by finely chopped foods.
Iron fortified infant cereals
Cooked pureed single fruit such as peaches, apples, pears, apricots
Mashed raw banana
Mashed raw avocado
Cooked pureed single vegetable such as carrots, peas, green beans, squash, sweet potato
Cooked pureed meats, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu
Whole milk yogurt, no sugar added
Thinned peanut or nut butter Discuss introducing allergenic foods with your pediatrician
Consistently exposing your child to a wide variety of healthy, whole foods is key in expanding your baby’s palate.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS ON HOW! 1
Focus on introducing lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains without worrying so much about the order of the introduction.
Babies naturally like sweet tastes, so letting your little one experience the real, sometimes bitter taste of vegetables will help her accept them.
If she doesn’t like something at first, don’t worry. Keep offering the food or try preparing it in different ways (sautéed, steamed, roasted or raw) to learn your little one’s preferences. It can sometimes take 10 or more tries for a baby to accept and enjoy new, unfamiliar foods and flavors, so stick with it!3
Sources: 2. American Academy of Pediatrics: https://ihcw.aap.org/Documents/Early%20 Feeding/Solid%20Foods/AAP-SolidFoods-2017-08-22-CMYK.pdf 3. American Academy of Pediatrics: https://ihcw.aap.org/Documents/Early%20 Feeding/Solid%20Foods/AAP-Solid-Foods_Print-Fact-Sheet.pdf
READING BABY’S FEEDING CUES
Watch for baby’s cues to help make feeding time a nice experience for both baby and you!
“NO MORE” SIGNS INCLUDE
Getting sleepy or fussy
Spitting out the food
Pushing away the spoon
Closing mouth or turning head as the spoon approaches
Waving arms and legs excitedly when food is offered
Smiling during the feeding
Coo! Grabbing for the spoon or food
Cooing, opening mouth and leaning towards food
It’s important to let baby lead the way with food. Allow her to decide how much and even whether she wants to eat. Just like you, your baby may be very hungry one day and less
hungry the next – these eating patterns are perfectly normal. By being mindful of your baby’s hunger and fullness cues, you’ll both learn together.
LET'S TALK ABOUT TEXTURE! Research shows that waiting beyond nine months to progress to lumpier foods may lead to selective eating and even rejection of alternative food consistencies, so it’s important to introduce baby to a variety of textures during this time.4 If you begin feeding your baby purees, be sure to advance to a lumpier consistency once they
WHAT ABOUT INTRODUCING ALLERGENS?
become comfortable. When your baby has mastered thick and lumpy purees, move on to finger foods of various consistencies and sizes.
Slivers or finely chopped pieces of soft cooked meat, like soup chicken or ground meat in a broth or mild sauce
By the end of their first year, your little one will most likely be able to sit at the family table and feed herself soft finger foods!
There are 8 types of foods that cause around 90% of food allergies. They are: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, shellfish, fish, wheat, and tree nuts.5 Current guidelines suggest introducing allergens early and often, and there is no need to delay.
ADVANCING TEXTURES INCLUDE:
Cubes, strings, or small pieces of cheese
Cooked whole grains, like barley, oats, or quinoa
If your pediatrician agrees, you can incorporate allergenic foods into your baby’s diet in a texture he can handle when you start solids.
PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PEDIATRICIAN WHO KNOWS YOUR BABY BEST BEFORE INTRODUCING ALLERGENIC FOODS. Sources: 4. National Institutes for Health https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19161546/ 5. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/in-depth/food-allergies/art-20045949
Cooked whole grain pasta with some butter, olive oil, parmesan or ricotta cheese
Whole-grain toast or waffle strips
STARTING SOLIDS: A CHECKLIST REVIEW At around 6 months old, start by offering a few tablespoons of food 1-3 times a day. Introduce one single-ingredient new food at a time, allowing 2-3 days to make sure your baby isn’t allergic or intolerant to these foods.
FIRST FOODS MEAL PLAN INSPIRATION BREAKFAST IDEAS Quinoa cereal puree Unsweetened whole milk yogurt Pureed peaches or soft cooked pears
LUNCH IDEAS Apple and acorn squash mash (pureed apples and squash mixed)
Pureed peas and carrots Mashed avocado
Advance texture once your baby is comfortable. Start with thin, pureed foods, then move to lumpy, mashed foods, followed by finely chopped foods.
(banana and avocado mashed together)
(mashed papaya and mango)
Garden veggie and fruit combo (mix mashed/pureed apples, spinach and peas)
Starting solids is such a fun time for both you and your little one! There is nothing quite like the excitement that comes with watching your baby take her first mouthful of food! The little face she makes as she experiences the first taste and texture other than her liquid diet, the way her little mouth processes and seemingly chews the food, her arms and legs moving excitedly telling you she wants more, and the joyful expression that makes your heart burst as she conveys her approval.
Moving through solid foods and trying new flavors and textures is an adventure, so buckle up and enjoy the ride! And, brace yourself for the infant feeding rite of passage – the food-inhair smash!
Let's be honest, starting solids and infant feeding can get MESSY! My three daughters were fans of solid foods right from the start. They all quickly learned how to ask for more, and we as parents quickly learned their signals for when they were done – which was key in lessening the amount of time we spent scraping scrambled eggs and picking up single grains of rice off of the floor! My oldest, Parker, did what we call the "windshield wiper." She would take both of her hands and swipe them back and forth over her tray, food flying everywhere. My middle daughter, Hadley, did what we called "the drop." She would look us dead in the eye, take a fistful of food, hang her arm over the side of the tray and just drop it, letting it fall all over the floor. My youngest daughter, Emma, does what we call the "hide and slide." She takes her food, hides it on the side of her legs under the highchair tray and then slides it onto the floor. Coming up with fun names to describe one of the not-so-fun parts of feeding our babies always gave us a good laugh! You see, our
little ones can tell us a lot of things, we just have to learn how to read their signals.
Angela is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified in maternal and infant nutrition from Cornell University, and mom to three daughters. She’s also a part of our Happy Baby Experts team, and you can chat her and our other experts on our free, live one-on-one chat:
No registration or e-mail required! Start chatting with one of our registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants today, to get helpful tips & advice on infant feeding, starting solids, picky eating, and more. Available 8a–8p (EST) MON-FRI & 8a–4p (EST) SAT-SUN
Happy Family Organics® has been on a mission to change the trajectory of children's health through nutrition since we launched on Mother's Day in 2006. We provide organic nutrition and support for you & your baby's feeding journey from day one, whether that's breast or formula feeding all the way through starting solids and picky eating. We thoughtfully craft organic meals and snacks with curated ingredients that are appropriate for each baby, toddler, and kid's age and stage to help support a lifetime of wellness.
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