Starting Solids: What the Baby Books Don't Tell You

Amy Jo Jones

Baby FoodExperts agree that for at least the first six months, a baby's nutritional needs are met by breast milk or formula and that around 4 to 6 months of age, your baby will be ready for solids.

When my baby was born, I did everything strictly the way the baby books told me to, so of course, I started with rice cereal. But that didn't last long. In talking to other moms and our pediatrician, I learned you don't have to start with cereal.

I found out you don't have to do a lot of things when it comes to offering solid foods. 

Let's take a look at those things they say you MUST do, but you really don't, shall we?

You have to start solids with cereal: Wrong. Cereal is easily digested, iron-fortified, and a low-allergen food. But a well-mashed banana has iron, is low in allergens, and is easy to digest, too! Other alternatives are pureed sweet potatoes or avocado. 

Vegetables before fruits: The old wives' tale says that if you offer fruits before vegetables, your baby will develop a sweet tooth. Not true. As long as you're consistently offering both, it doesn't matter if you offer peaches before the carrots.

Avoid spices and strong flavors: Babies in the womb taste everything moms eat, so if you snacked on hummus when you were pregnant, it won't hurt baby to try a finger full, or five.

Commercial baby foods are better than table food: I once brought home a jar of baby food labeled as a "dessert" by mistake and it had added sugar! The fruits, veggies, and meats you prepare are just as good for baby as what you find in the store.  

Some guidelines still hold true: If you have a history of allergies, keep that in mind when introducing new foods. It's still best to introduce one food at a time so you can watch for any problems and always make sure the food isn't a choking hazard.

Also check out Christie's piece on buying or making baby food.

What was the first solid food you gave your baby?


Image via Team Dalog/Flickr

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