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How to Introduce Solid Foods for Your Toddler

​​​​​When should you start feeding your baby solid foods or strained foods? How should you introduce the foods and what kinds of foods should you start with? Boys Town Pediatrics provides a guideline on starting solid foods with your baby!

  • Time. Boys Town Pediatrics and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend starting solid foods with breastfed and formula-fed babies between 4 to 6 months of age. A great time to start solid foods is when your baby is able to sit with some support, move his or her head and participate in the feeding process.
  • Amount. Start with small spoonfuls and gradually work up to larger portions. During the first year of life, we recommend two to four tablespoons or one to two ounces of each kind of food per meal.
  • Feeding Process. Place food on the middle of the tongue instead of the front, or you might receive some food back your way! Try placing the spoon between his lips and let him suck off the food. He may try to grab the food or spoon and a distraction may be needed. Let him hold his own spoon or play with finger foods. By 12 months of age, he may try to feed himself with finger foods and by 15 to 18 months of age, he will probably be using the spoon by himself!
  • Finger Foods. Finger foods are small, bite-size pieces of soft foods typically introduced between 9 to 10 months of age or when he begins to develop a pincer grip (the ability to pick objects up between the thumb and first finger). Dry cereals, slices of cheese, pieces of scrambled eggs, slices of fresh or canned fruit, crackers, cookies and breads are all great finger foods to keep him actively involved during the feeding process.
  • Cereals. Cereals are usually the first solid food added to a baby's diet. Most baby cereals are iron-fortified and can help a baby who is only receiving breast milk. Mix the cereal with breast milk or formula. The cereal mixture can be mixed thicker as your baby becomes better at swallowing. Cereals should be fed with a small spoon and should not be given in a bottle so he can be taught to differentiate between what to eat and what to drink. Start with rice cereal and gradually introduce other cereals like barley and oatmeal. Mixed cereal can be introduced after each kind of cereal in the mixed cereal has been separately introduced.
  • Vegetables and Fruit. Strained or pureed vegetables and fruits are the next solid foods introduced to your baby. The order in which you add vegetables and fruits to your baby's diet is not important. However, you should introduce only one new food at a time and no more than three new foods per week.
  • Meat and Protein A​lternatives. Next give strained or pureed meats and protein alternatives such as beans, peas, lentils, cottage cheese, and yogurt, which will add necessary iron.
  • Homemade Baby Foods. Between 8 to 12 months of age, introduce your baby to mashed table foods or junior foods (also called stage 3 foods). If you make your own baby foods in a baby-food grinder or electric blender, be sure to add enough water to get a consistency that your baby can easily swallow. For individual portions, pour these homemade baby foods into ice cube trays, freeze, then remove and store in plastic freezer bags.
  • Avoid. Avoid honey during the first year of life because it can cause infant botulism and carefully dice or avoid food that would be difficult to chew such as raw carrots, candy, peanuts or other nuts and popcorn.
  • Snacks. Snacks are typically introduced between six to nine months of age or once your baby is eating three regular meals a day. Small snacks can help between meals. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks such as nutritious fruits and dry cereals are recommended.
  • Vitamins. A vitamin D supplement is needed for ages 2 weeks to 12 months for breast-fed babies. After your baby is 12 months and is eating a balanced diet, vitamins may not be necessary. Speak to your physician to see if your child needs vitamin supplements.
  • Iron.​ Iron is an important vitamin needed in a diet to prevent anemia. Red meats, fish and poultry are a good source of iron. Iron is also found in iron-enriched cereals, beans of all types, egg yolks, peanut butter, raisins, prune juice, sweet potatoes and spinach.

By approximately 1 year of age, your child should be able to join the rest of the family at the table and enjoy the same healthy meal in a toddler high chair of course!