How to Get Your Baby Started on Solid Foods

Erin Moore, Nurse Practitioner and Certified Lactation Counselor, answers your top questions on how to start your baby on solid foods.

Introducing solid foods to your baby is a huge milestone for you and your baby! It can be both exciting and a little nerve-wracking. There is a lot of conflicting information out there and it is hard to know when, where, and how to begin.

This blog post will give you the knowledge you need to get started with confidence.

Is your baby ready for solid foods?

Knowing when your baby is ready for solids is key. While the official recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is approximately 6 months, it depends on your baby’s developmental milestones.

Here are some signs to look for:

Good Head Control

Your baby can hold their head up steadily and sit with minimal support. They should be able to sit upright for the entire meal without slumping over. It takes a lot of core support to keep a baby upright, but core support and head control helps decrease the risk for choking!

Interest in Food

What would happen if you weren’t hungry and someone tried to make you eat food? You probably would turn your head away. Babies need to be interested in your food before starting solids or else it will be really hard to get them to eat! Your baby may watch you eat, touch your food, or even try to sneak bites. This is a good sign they are ready to start solids.

Loss of Tongue-Thrust Reflex

Babies are born with a reflex that pushes food out of their mouths. This reflex needs to go away before your baby is able to move food in their mouth - usually between 4 to 6 months. 

Consult your baby’s pediatric provider to see if your baby is ready to start solids!

Should you start with baby cereal, purees, or finger-foods?

When it’s time to introduce solids, it is up to you on which food you want to start with! Some families feel more comfortable with baby cereal or pureed food, while others want to skip directly to finger foods. It depends on your baby’s development and what your family feels comfortable with. 

Baby Cereal

Baby cereal is often made with grains like oatmeal, rice, or quinoa and contain iron, which is important for a growing baby. They’re easy to digest and can be mixed with breast milk or formula to a thin consistency, making the transition from liquid to more solid foods smoother.


Vegetable and fruit purees are great first foods. Many start with single-ingredient purees like sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, apples, or pears. There are many store-bought options, but you can also easily make baby food at home.

Finger Foods

Some parents opt for soft, solid foods from the start, following the baby-led weaning approach. Foods like avocado slices, banana pieces, or cooked sweet potato sticks are good choices. This method encourages babies to explore textures and self-feed, promoting independence.

Did you know that Ready. Set. Food! Grows with your baby? You can start with mix-ins or baby oatmeal and move onto puffs and oat bars as your baby gets older. These are easy and tasty ways to get allergens into your baby’s diet.

How to Progress from Purees

Progressing from purees involves gradually introducing more texture and variety into your baby’s diet. Here’s how to do it:

Thicker Purees

As your baby gets comfortable with smooth purees, start offering thicker purees by blending for a shorter time or mashing with a fork.

Soft Chunks

Start incorporating small, soft chunks into purees, like tiny pieces of cooked vegetables or fruits.

Finger Foods

Offer a variety of finger foods to encourage self-feeding and improve motor skills. Make sure they are appropriately sized and soft enough to avoid choking. Your baby should be able to mash the food between their tongue and the roof of their mouth.

Complex Finger Foods

Offer foods with mixed textures. Modify the meals that you eat to make it easier.

What is baby-led weaning?

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a way to introduce solids that lets babies feed themselves right from the start. Instead of spoon-feeding purees, you give your little one soft, easy-to-hold pieces of whole foods they can grab and eat on their own. This method helps babies develop motor skills and chewing abilities. They are able to explore different textures and flavors at their own pace. It encourages independence from the get-go.

Do Babies Need Teeth to Start Solid Foods?

Your baby’s jaw is very strong, which means your baby does not need teeth! Make sure all food is pureed or soft enough to break down between your baby’s tongue and the roof of their mouth. If you are looking for an easy way to tell if it is soft enough for your baby, try it out yourself. You can also squish the food between two fingers. It should be easy!

Safety Tips for Introducing Solids

  • Take an infant CPR and choking class prior to starting solids. It is important to know what to do in case of an emergency!
  • Cut food into small pieces and avoid hard, round foods like nuts and popcorn. Cut round food into small pieces or quarters. Avoid candy and gum.
  • Always supervise your baby while eating to quickly address any potential choking incidents or allergic reactions.
  • Introduce allergenic foods early: According to recent guidelines, it is important to introduce common allergens early and keep them in your baby’s diet often. Use Ready. Set. Food! For an easy introduction method!
  • Have realistic expectations! It may take awhile for your baby to understand how to eat and what to do. It is common for babies to be confused, make funny faces, or push food out of their mouth.
  • Show your baby how to eat, chew and drink from a cup. Modeling and family meals are an important part of introducing solids!

Introducing solids is a pivotal phase in your baby’s development - though many parents are not ready for it. Make sure to do it in a way that feels good for your family and remember to ask for guidance from your pediatric provider!

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.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.