Have a baby who is ready to start solids? Here is feeding schedule for babies and everything you need to know on introducing solid food to your baby. A step by step guide that helps you decide if your child is ready to eat plus lots of information to help you avoid allergies.
I have had four kids and this post was written when my third one was 9months old. My youngest is 7 years old now. She started on solids the day she became six months. It has been a very interesting experience with her because for the first time, I had a baby who liked sweet foods than the bland ones.
In this post, I want to share with you a collection of all the advice that really worked for me and also my experiences. I hope you find it useful.
Always be extra careful about Allergies.
We all eat. We come from different cultures and different lifestyles. We are different in our choice of food too. In the past 14 years that I have been a mom, I have read so many things.
In my culture, mums start with egg yolks as it is said that a child’s immune system will be stronger if they are fed eggs as the first foods. It is argued that they need the fat in the yolk for the coating of their brain nerves. We also start solids at the age of 4 months. I once read a Swedish paper online, which said that the first food should be yolks and cod liver-oil and that it should be started at four months of age. I had a copy of the PDF file but I have seen that they took down that paper a few years ago.
It is a controversial issue because you see, egg yolks and some fishes can cause serious allergies in babies below the age of 12months. We had started our first born on egg yolks at 4 months. Our doctor had agreed then that our baby was ready for solids and had given the green signal for egg yolk.
My son had Asthmatic cough for the first 6 years of his life due to it. It started with bronchitis when he was three years old and progressed to Asthma. He was always in and out of hospitals and forever on nebulizers. It was when he was 5 years old that we discovered that he had developed an allergy to eggs. We stopped the eggs. The wheezing and cough stopped.
Moral of the story: When you are feeding your baby for the first time, irrespective of whether it is your first or your fourth, always consult your doctor and follow the latest guidelines available. There is new research and new results coming out all the time. What was considered okay, once upon a time, is found to be causing serious allergies.
When you are feeding your baby for the first time, irrespective of whether it is your first or your fourth, always consult your doctor and follow the latest guidelines available. There is new research and new results coming out all the time. What was considered okay, once upon a time, is found to be causing serious allergies.
Why is this happening? We are living in an age where our environment is changing very fast. There are new viruses making us ill, environmental changes, lifestyle… everything is affecting us.
Babies are after all ‘babies’. There immune system is the weakest. It is our job to make sure that we know our children – their strengths and weaknesses from the beginning. Avoiding the suspected allergic food, means that we are making them stronger. It is not like they will never eat that food. They will… but it will be after a few weeks or months.
There is no need to feel overwhelmed by all this allergy talk. You will be alright and you will give your child the best start on solid food.
FAQ: Is Your Child Ready For Solids?
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the WHO and most Government Health Organizations, the recommended age to start solids is 6months. It is the ‘recommended’ age, but most kids are ready anytime between 4months and 6months.
My eldest was ready at 4months (He was always hungry and one time actually snatched our food from our hand and tried to gobble up! That, was when we went to his doctor!) But, my second was not ready to take anything by 6months. My third child started at 5 and half months. This latest one, she started at 6months too but I am still struggling to get her to take atleast two tablespoons at a meal!
There is a guideline to how you can ‘guess’ that your baby may be ready. I repeat, you are only guessing. You have to take your baby to the doctor and take his advice before starting solids. You will have to discuss all the reasons why you think your child is ready and you may be asked about your child’s feeding and schedule.
It is better to keep a diary of his/her feeding schedule and how much milk he/she takes at each feed. This can pinpoint if your child is taking enough milk and at the right time or not.
Try to keep your child on a routine too as this can prevent them from feeding at an odd erratic manner. (No, I don’t believe in demand feeding.)
Here is the checklist which can help you guess if your baby is ready.
- Your child is 4months old and has head support. He/she can hold her head without support and can be sat up with support.
- Your child has doubled his or her birth weight and/is more than 6.8kgs.
- Your child is feeding more and often and repeatedly gets up through the night looking for a feed even though he/she has been fed with a top up feed at midnight and it is usually much before 5am. (Please note: A baby at 4months feeds 240ml of formula every four hours with 4-5 feeding through the day or breastfeeds on both sides for 15-20minutes)
- Your baby is drooling, teething and mouthing his fingers and toys more than usual. Please note: Most babies this age drool and mouth objects but a baby who is ready will be more than drooling… He’ll be a drool factory and you’ll know what that is when you experience one!
If your baby is showing all of the above signs and your doctor gives the green signal then it is time to move on to Stage 1 of introducing solids.
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Feeding Schedule for Introducing Solids
Most of us start out unsure of ourselves. What do we give them? How do we give them? What time is the right time? How fast should we go on giving new foods? It can be overwhelming and difficult and the whole thing could get frustrating if we move too fast or in the wrong way. There are allergies to consider and the effect some hard to digest foods have on the babies’ sleep.
What kind of foods can you feed as first foods for your baby:
Once you have the green signal to give your baby solids, what do you give him/her? The safest first food choice is baby rice.
You can get raw baby rice, soak it, grind it, dry it and store and use. This is what I recommend. But sometimes it is not possible to make your own baby cereal.
Cerelac™ has baby rice and many other brands like Farley™ and Gerber™ too. I have reviewed Gerber food for babies here.
Most doctors recommend that you give them the packed version. I asked my doctor if it wouldn’t be better if I made my own. He said that it would be better but there are a few things added to the packs that can be good for your child like vitamins and minerals. (I am talking about Baby Cereal only. Please don’t give your child any food from a jar. Baby cereal is dry powder form.)
You can decide which one and then stick to it. Remember that you can add your breast-milk to these powders. If your child is formula fed, you can add formula too although, most preparations recommend adding warm boiled water. I found that when a baby starting on solids rejects solids, adding breast-milk or formula helped.
At what time and how many time should you feed your baby?
Choose a time of the day that is acceptable for both you and your baby.
If your baby is on a routine that time would most probably be at 11am. Some babies prefer in the evening too. The three elder ones and the other babies who I had helped were all comfortable at 11am and but my youngest one after two weeks of trying daily, I discovered, was interested in a meal at 5pm.
All babies are different. Always go by what your child likes. It will make it easier for you and for your child. Never force anything.
Following your child’s routine is very important!
I wouldn’t recommend trying it mid-morning or late afternoons because mid-morning would mean the baby will not be hungry enough to feed well before the noon nap. If your baby is on a routine, you will know how important it is for the baby to feed well at this time. If they don’t take a big enough feed before their nap, they will get up to feed. This interrupted sleep will mean moving the 2.30pm feed forward and the baby will nap at around 4-4.30pm again. When that happens, how do you expect the baby to sleep at 7.30pm? Also, when should you give the second meal when you are ready to start another meal of the day? The late afternoon is the time when the baby is least interested in food.
This is my experience with my kids and a few others. They will not eat much even if you force and then the problem arises that they will not feed well at the bed time feed. When that is disrupted, they will wake up in the night. So, I recommend, that you try to start the meal at 11am. Once your child is taking at least 3-4 tablespoon of the rice, you can move that to 5pm and start another food at the 11am again.
Also, remember that your baby still needs milk at this stage and milk should be his/her main meal.
The only reason we are giving solids is because his milk needs have increased and it is no longer sufficient. Solids, at this stage, should be considered as a top up rather than the main meal. Therefore, it is necessary that you first give your baby some amount of milk and then give him/her the solids. You can mix a tablespoon or more of milk (breast or formula) with a table spoon of rice to make a smooth paste. Use a clean soft baby spoon to feed. Remember that you give it all sufficient time and don’t hurry. Let the baby take all her/his time to adjust to the process.
GET MY PRINTABLE CHEAT SHEET (coming soon)
Different types of foods you can give as first foods
Once your baby is taking up to 3tbspn of baby rice you can move the rice to 5pm (supper) and introduce something else at the 11am slot. Your safe choices are baby carrots, squash, pumpkin (all steamed and pureed soft), apple sauce and pear sauce.
Then there are other cereals like wheat (commercial packs) and porridge oats. By the end of six months you should have tried a decent amount of veggies and fruits (all steamed and pureed) and some cereals. Irrespective of if you started to wean before six months or at 6months, your baby would have tried most vegies and fruits by the beginning of seven months.
When to start including proteins in your babies diet?
After you have tried all the different vegetables, fruits and cereals, it is time to move on to proteins.
As a guideline, babies should be established on a ‘three meals a day’ plan before they can be given proteins. Why is that?
This is to ensure that your child is really hungry enough and ready to accept the proteins.
Most babies don’t take to proteins easily. They either reject it outright or fuss about it. Once your child is taking enough carbohydrates and fruits, it will be easier for you to introduce protein in his main meal. The reason you have to introduce protein in the main meal is because that is when he will be more likely to accept it. Also, babies need proteins and iron. When you introduce a protein meal at a time when your child is not quite interested in it, it will have two drawbacks.
- His protein needs are not met and he will start getting up through the night looking for a feed.
- If he takes it right before a naptime or bedtime, he will have trouble digesting his food and getting a good sleep.
So, in order to make sure you time it right, make sure your child is:
- taking three meals a day before you start him on the proteins.
- getting his protein meal at a time when he is more likely to finish all of it.
- not having proteins right before his bedtime.
How do I know if my baby is ready for three meals a day?
Your baby is ready for three meals a day when:
- He is taking 3-4 tablespoons or cubes of vegies/fruits/cereal at both his lunch time (11am) and supper time (5pm).
- He is very hungry at breakfast and finishes all of his bottle or breastfeeds but gets hungry much before his 11am meal time. (They are usually demanding lunch around 10am or earlier!)
I am out of meal ideas! What should I be giving my baby at breakfast, lunch and dinner?
You have decided that it is time to give your child three meals; you have already given him cereals and fruits and vegies. Isn’t he getting bored with the same thing over and over again? We all get bored of the same stuff over and over again and they are just little babies. You are setting your child up for healthy eating habits. You will be building the foundation on which he will learn. Babies have more taste buds than us adults. They can taste differently and the more you experiment the more they learn about food so, experiment! Teach your child to love food.
For breakfast, your baby can have cereals like wheat (Weatabix™ biscuits), oats (Ready brek™, porridge oats) or baby muesli, fruits or fruit purees like peach, apricot, apple, pears or bananas and yoghurt. These can be mixed up in all kinds of combinations. Remember, your child will be taking a full feed of formula or breast milk before his/her breakfast. Please remember: Do not give your child any of the commercial baby food or purees available in jars. They are not safe. There are various reports of them being contaminated and they add additives. Also, there have been cases when they were found to have pieces of glass in them too. Be safe. Give your child home made natural foods. If you can afford or find organic foods, even better. It isn’t difficult to make your own baby food. The reason most mums don’t make it is because they don’t know how to or they run out of ideas or they don’t know how to make it work for them. A little organization and planning goes a long way.
If you are struggling to cook with little baby and/or toddler, read this post on how to manage your time easily in the kitchen.
(Please note: Some links below may be affiliate links. Read my Disclosure for more info.)
For lunch, the possibilities are endless. Vegetable purees like carrot, pumpkin, zucchini, green beans, cabbage, sweet potato, peas, sweet corn, potato mash and boiled lentil soups mixed together in any combination can be given.
When your baby is ready for proteins you can start by adding a little bit of chicken stock to the veggies before you introduce the chicken or meats. Start slowly and make sure your baby isn’t allergic before you increase the protein content (stock) in the food.
Once your child is taking the meal which has been prepared in chicken stock you can start giving the chicken and meats. (Remember no organ meats!)
For supper, you can give cereal with fruits, fruits with yoghurt, thick soups or if your baby is eight months and older, some soft finger foods. Most babies are sleepy and tired in the evening and don’t usually feed well at supper. It is, therefore, necessary to bring the evening meal to 5-5.30pm. If they skip the evening meal, they will take longer to drop the late feed and many get up through the night.
If you need help with Menu Planning, read this post about how I meal plan quickly.
FAQ: My baby was eating well but as soon as he turned 8 months old, he will not eat any of the food that I am offering him.
This happened to me the first time I was feeding my child. I struggled a lot before I read and discovered that all babies at that age do that. The reason is because they are ready to start on more grainy, coarse or textured foods! All you have to do is mash their food with a fork or push it through a coarse setting on your mouli and they will be back to eating whatever you serve them. They will also love it when you stop steaming their fruits. It is perfectly okay to grate the apples and pears when they reach that age. Chop the grapes into tiny pieces. When I changed the way I served his food, I found that we both actually enjoyed meal times. It was so easy to prepare his food then. I’ve helped quite a few people with this problem and all of them were surprised at how fast their baby went back to eating well.
When can my child start eating the same as my family?
Your child can start eating most of what your family is eating at 12 months of age. My children were eating the same thing as the rest of us by their first birthday. The period between 6months of age till they are a year old is like training them slowly to eat our food. Teaching them, one step at a time, to taste, accept and enjoy.
From 6-8 months we test them with new ingredients and the combination of them to see if they like it, develop an allergy or reject it.
From 8-12 months, we teach them to chew, bite and swallow. To understand the different more complex tastes. I always feel that this is the time to experiment with food. We have personally discovered some really delicious combinations that have become family favorites now. More on that in another post but for now, I encourage you to test it out.
You don’t have to keep making dishes for them alone. It can be part of a family meal. I usually like to prepare everything the way I do for my family and then make it appropriate for the 8-12 month old baby by adding or eliminating ingredients. (No citrus or chilli for instance!) If the baby is still taking ground or mashed stuff, then I’ll put through a blender or mash it up. Some food like pasta, your baby can’t have that. You can either substitute it with baby pasta or even easier, just grind up your mac and cheese!
Please note: That is what I learnt and what I followed with my four kids. I am not an expert on weaning or anything child care but I read stuff, experimented with my kids, kept a log, jotted down what worked and what didn’t. This is my experience on Introducing Solids. My constant ‘go to’ references that I have in my library for all things ‘baby’ and ‘toddler’ are as follows: