What are the best first foods for babies? We share our top picks based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines. Plus, we’ve included our top tips for starting solids.
When to Start Baby’s First Foods
Before deciding what first foods to give to baby, you’ll need to make sure baby is ready to have their first tastes of solids.
Look for these signs to know when baby can start solids:
- Baby can sit upright with little to no support
- Baby is able to swallow food – their tongue doesn’t push food out of their mouth
- Baby has good head and neck control
- Baby shows interest in the foods you eat
A Healthy Start to Baby’s Solids Journey
Once baby is ready, there are three ways you can start feeding baby solids:
- Starting with purees
- Doing baby-led weaning (where baby is fed age-appropriate finger foods right away)
- Giving baby a combination of both purees and finger foods
But no one approach is better than the others – pick the one that works best for you and your baby.
In the same way, there’s no specific food that’s best for baby to start with. Instead, it’s important to feed baby a variety of healthy, baby-safe foods as they start their solids journey.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend feeding baby these types of healthy foods when they start their solids journey:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables – these should be prioritized
- Protein-rich foods, like meats, fish, beans, eggs, cow’s milk products, oatmeal, seed products, nut products, and/or soy products
- Baby-safe forms of common allergens, like "peanut, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat… and soy," to give baby the best chance at freely eating these foods later in life
- Whole grains
- Foods high in iron and zinc, like oatmeal – iron’s especially important as baby’s natural iron stores start getting depleted around 6 months of age
- Foods without any added sugar
- Foods that are low in sodium
Best First Foods For Baby
Based on these guidelines, here are our recommendations for the best first foods to start solids with.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal’s packed with protein, iron, fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, plus lots of vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great base to mix with fruit puree. Once baby starts eating solids, Ready. Set. Food! Organic Baby Oatmeal provides all these benefits, plus it contains 9 top allergens babies need to eat for healthier outcomes. It’s an easy way to follow medical guidelines that recommend early, frequent exposure to these allergens.
- Mango: Soft, sweet and fun to eat, your baby will love to snack on this delicious fruit.
- Sweet potato: This naturally sweet veggie is easy to digest, and it has a great soft texture that makes it an ideal first food.
- Avocado: Another soft veggie that’s stacked with nutrients, avocado works well pureed, mashed, or cut into strips.
- Banana: Baby will go bananas for their taste, and their soft texture makes them another ideal first food. Plus, they’re easy for baby to digest.
- Chicken: Whether you puree it or serve it in soft pieces, chicken is protein-packed and contains all-important iron.
- Cooked carrots: An important source of Vitamin A, carrots are a great first food as long as they’re cooked soft. Puree them, mash them, or cut cooked carrots into strips.
- Pureed or mashed peas: A little food with big nutrition, peas are a great choice as long as they’re pureed or mashed (they’re a choking hazard if served round).
- Unsweetened applesauce/apple puree: This one’s a classic first food, but be sure to choose applesauce or apple puree with no added sugar. Introduce important top allergens by mixing Ready. Set. Food! Organic Mix-Ins with applesauce.
- Plain yogurt with no added sugar: This is a great way to introduce your little one to dairy (a top allergen), especially since they can’t have milk to drink until after one year of age. Make sure that there’s no sugar on the ingredient list. Introduce peanut, egg, and other top allergens along with milk by mixing Ready. Set. Food! Organic Mix-Ins with yogurt.
Feeding Baby-Safe Foods
When selecting baby’s first foods, make sure that they are prepared in ways that are safe for baby. Never feed baby hard or round foods, as they are choking hazards.
You’ll need to cook hard fruits and veggies to make them soft. As for round foods, cut round fruits and veggies into halves or quarters, or blend them into a puree or mash.
Chunky nut butter is unsafe for your little one, as it contains hard nut pieces. But smooth peanut butter is also a choking hazard if it isn’t watered down, as it’s too sticky and lumpy. Instead, water down smooth nut butters before giving them to baby – or mix nut powders (like the ones in Ready. Set. Food!) into baby’s other foods.
Tips for Giving Baby’s First Foods
Start slowly with just a little bit of food at a time – a half spoonful of puree or a few pieces of food for baby-led weaning. Many parents recommend starting solids at the morning meal, when baby tends to be hungriest.
You might feed a little breastmilk or formula right before giving baby their first tastes of solids, and then follow the solids up with more breastmilk or formula.
If baby refuses the spoon, fusses, or doesn’t pick up the food pieces, don’t worry. Try again on another day.
Once baby starts accepting solids, feed one solids meal per day. Baby will only eat an ounce to a few ounces of solids at a time. You can then slowly work in a second solids meal if baby seems ready for it. By 8 months or so, many babies start eating three solids meals plus snacks.
Keep giving baby a food even if they didn’t appear to like that food on their first taste. It can sometimes take 15 or more exposures to a food for baby to start to like that food.
Also, if baby doesn’t like a food when you puree it, try it mashed, or even as a finger food served in a baby-safe way. It’s ok to switch your approach to feeding, or alternate purees, mashed foods, and finger foods, until you find out what works best for you and baby.
While introducing baby’s first foods, keep in mind that consistently feeding baby common allergen foods in baby-safe forms will give them the best chance at freely eating those foods later in life.
Even though there are several common allergens, introducing them doesn’t have to be challenging. Ready. Set. Food! makes it easy to feed baby these important foods early and often – just mix our Organic Mix-Ins into baby’s favorite foods, or give baby our Organic Baby Oatmeal with allergens pre-mixed inside.
Beyond Baby’s First Foods
As baby masters different textures, keep introducing a variety of baby-safe thicker and chunkier textures, so baby builds confidence in munching and chewing.
If you aren’t doing baby-led weaning, aim to introduce finger foods by 9 months of age. This way, baby won’t refuse finger foods because they’ve become too fearful of choking.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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