Introducing Solids

A PSP thread on introducing solids.


A PSP member asks:


"I can't believe t he time has come for me to introduce solids to ou r  almost 6 month old. I am a bit clueless on what to do. Does anyonehave any resources (books, websites or otherwise) that discuss thisprocess reasonably and succinctly? Your advice is very welcome. Age  neral plan would be particularly useful - what to start with (ricecer e al, right? Can I use regular rice, well smashed?), what comes next,etc. I do know that only one food at a time should be introduced toisolate any potentially problematic foods. I would love to be able tomake my own food for our son, so any recipes, tips, etc. are also very much appreciated. Many, many thanks."


Here are PSP member replies:


1) The Dr. Sears' book Birth to Age 2 had some very good sections on how to introduce foods and how to make your own. 


2)  and Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron (several recs for this book and site). 


3) I followed, more or less, the plan for introducing solids that Ellyn Satter lays out in her book Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. The book is one of my favorites and I thought that her advice on solids -- as well as much else surrounding food and kids -- was quite sensible. It worked nicely for us. 


4) I make my own baby food. I started with 1 tablespoon of gerber rice cereal and added enough breast milk to make it like soup, this was just so Ben (my son) could get the hang of the spoon. After 4 days of the cereal, I made yams. I just boiled 1 organic yam and then blended it with a bit of the water I cooked it in. It made 5 servings. I freeze it in ice cube tray and store the cubes in a ziplock. I made apple sauce next. I bought 1 big red apple, peeled it and cut it up. I boiled it with just enough water to cover the apple for 1 hour, and then blended with the water. We started 2 weeks ago, and have just been doing 1 solid feeding a day 


5) I recomend the book First Meals by Annabel Karmel. It gives recipes from babies to 5 years old. It gives you hints and tips on how to introduce solids, how to do it, what to try first and also it has many recipes and sample menus for every age. Also you asked if mashed rice would be the same as rice cereal, well, I think it's different because the rice cereal is made with a consistency that can be very watered down which is best at the very begining, also the baby rice cereal has added vitamins and iron which regular rice doesn't have. They explain everything in the book. 


6) I started with the organic brown rice infant cereal you can find in most health stores--the advantages are that it's easy to make, and fortified with iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients. YOu just mix is with breast milk or formula or water. I gave her some (2-3 tablespoons made) each day for a week--she ate much less than that, but gradually ate it all. If you're breastfeeding, you may want to start mixing it with water, as your baby will probably NOT eat it at first, and it feels like a waste of milk. Let him (?) play with it, if he so desires. I then went on to pureed (with added water) sweet potatoes, acorn squash, banana, cooked pear, etc, waiting four days between each. They don't eat much at first-it takes a few weeks before it's anything like a meal. There are a lot of helpful lists on the internet--search under "feeding infant timetable" or things like that. That said, you can definitely go the real rice route. A very helpful if crazy book is Ruth Yaron's Super Baby Food. She has tons of recipes and advice about nutritious food for infants and toddlers. Most helpfully, she goes through what you can introduce when and what combinations of food make for the most healthy meals. She suggests grinding rice in a blender for 2 minutes BEFORE you cook it, and then cooking it for 10 minutes over the stove. You can of course also puree already cooked rice--the other way is just faster, if you don't have the leftovers. Just be sure not to give your baby rice that's been cooked with anything besides water at first. Good luck! It's fun.  7) If you want relatively easy recipes, try The Petit Appetit Cookbook.  8) Here is what we were told to do by several doctors and books: Start by introducing rice cereal, then other single cereals, then one fruit at a time, and then one vegetable at a time. Introduce each new food in the morning, so if there is an allergic reaction, it will be easy to take Suryan to the hospital. Here is what we actually did: Our son had zero interest in rice cereal. He just spit it right back out. If you've ever smelled the stuff, you'll know that he was fully justified. So we gave him apple, instead. That went well, so we introduced peach, banana, broccoli, and a variety of other fruits and veggies. At first we kept the 2-3 day waiting rule, but pretty soon we just threw whatever at him. Mashed rice is not fine enough. The rice should be cooked in water to the point that it breaks down into starch -- about two hours. It's easier just to buy the stuff. Same with the fruits and veggies. At this stage, the child is learning a new way of swallowing, so the food needs to be totally strained, not just mashed or even pureed. We bought Earth's Best organic baby food for Stage 1, then made our own stuff for Stage 2, when it's enough to puree it very fine. Once Suryan is eating Stage 1 foods easily, you can move to Stage 2 (pureeing). We also gave our son mashed avocado and similar foods. After a while, we started putting a little of whatever we were having -- stir fry, pasta, rice and beans -- in the food processor and serving it, as well. We never made food specially for him, because we wanted him to get used to the kind of food he's going to have to eat for the next 17-18 years. Next come Cheerios, which melt in the mouth. After she masters this, she's ready for small pieces (NOT slices) of fruit, small pasta shapes and so on. At that point, Suryan can eat whatever you're eating, but you just need to be mindful to avoid choking hazards. I hope that's helpful. This is a very enjoyable process, messy but fulfilling. Don't worry about what your baby is consuming. Your goal in this process is not so much to nourish her as to develop in her a healthy attitude to eating for the rest of her life. The more she can control the process, the more healthfully she is likely to eat. Enjoy. 


9) Our experience of the transistion to solids has been terrific, very easy. I've watched a lot of other moms struggle and one suspicion i have is that you are so much more likely to have trouble if you start solids too early, ie before six months. also, if you are still nursing, you don't have to worry about how much or little he takes. you know he'll make up whatever he needs in nursing so you can be very relaxed about the food. we started solids slowly. a little mashed avacado, a little rice cereal, a little mashed banana. never had any choking or gagging problems. [I made super porridge] from the ruth yorn book "super baby foods" This is, instead of using packaged processed rice cereal you make your own. put organic brown rice in a good blender, puree until it's a powder. to cook, spoon into boiling water, cook while stirring for 10 minutes. gradually you can add other things to the mix. so now every morning [baby] gets this mix with flax seed, sunflower seed, quinoa, millet, brown rice, beans, chick peas, brewer's yeast, and whatever else i throw in the blender. i grind up a few days supply at a time and keep it in the fridge. he eats it with chunks of banana and goat's milk yogurt. so i'm very relaxed about the rest of the day. i know he's gotten this incredibly healthy start. during the winter we'd also put in a clementine, that was great because it's good to combine vitamin c and calcium for better absorbtion of the calcium. goats milk is easier to digest than cows but if he's getting yours no extra milk is needed. i had to add becasue even though he still nurses, pregnancy kind of dried me up. 


10) I read recently that the best thing to start them on first is fruit, (which humans would have eaten before they ate grains), and the article recommended mashed bananas, pureed apples, and pears - in that order. It said that we ate grains much later in terms of evolution and digest them less readily. Don't feel like you have to rush - we introduced solids at 9 months, around the time our son got his first tooth. He was nursing full time. Many people who nurse don't introduce solids until one year and my midwife said her daughter ate solids at 18 mos! 


11) I made a few things for my older child when we were at this stage the first time around by buying organic frozen vegetables and cooking them and adding things like beans and rice. I think once you're past the single food stage, you can mix up whatever you want. Then I pureed them in a blender and froze the puree in ice cube trays and would store the cubes in ziplock ba gs. 

12) Your best bet is to talk to [your child]'s pediatrician as all doctors seem to have a different approach. But, if you would like to see what I am doing my pediatrician's has a website at which under a heading that says handouts describes what you should do about feeding. But we started with rice cereal (a baby food brand) and every 4 days we will be introducing a new food to make sure there are no allergies. This is the order of what we are doing - oh and for the next two weeks we are only doing dinner, then we will do dinner and breakfast...

  • Rice cereal
  • Oatmeal or barley;
  • Green veggies: peas, string beans;
  • Orange vegiees: carrots, squash, sweet potato;
  • Fruits - anything but red berries so apples, pears, etc... When [baby] turns closer to 8-9 months we are moving on to the "stage 2" foods. Then we can also introduce plain yogurt and chicken and turkey. But, as I said diff doctors have diff opinions (for instance, [friend's] pediatrician lets her feed [baby] everything and anything...) Good Luck! It's a lot of fun and they looove it! 


13) outlines it quite nicely. 


14) The book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron is very good. It has recipes, procedures, lots of tips. She has a recipe for Super Porridge that I made for my daughter--it tastes great for adults too. When they're babies you can do single grains that you grind up and cook, and when they're older you can mix grains and legumes--I usually did brown rice and lentils. I think the author is a little crazy, or maybe just too hardcore for me, but I just took parts of the book with a grain of salt, because the recipes are good (well, I've only really done the porridge, but just for that the book is worth it)


15) Your pediatrician should give you some guidance on how to proceed. Rice cereal's generally first, then you usually move onto barley or oatmeal cereal, fruits, vegetables, etc... Generally, it's recommended to wait 3 days between new foods to watch out for allergic reactions. The website had useful tips and charts of what types of foods to try at certain ages. Also, Premier Pediatrics' website has a useful handout on starting solids. If you sign up on the Earth's Best, Gerber, and BeechNut websites they will send you coupons for jars of baby food. Regarding making food, I know several people who used a book called Superbabyfoods and I have a book that also has recipes for toddlers, I believe the author is Anna Karmel. Enjoy - it's a fun time! 


16) I started making Leo's food when he turned 6 months, about 1 1/2 months ago. I used Ruth Yaron's Super Babyfood book and the Easy Baby Food kit that comes with trays. It really is very easy! I started him on avocado, then banana, both of which can just be mashed up and served, and then went to rice cereal. Full disclosure: Yaron's book tells you how to make your own cereal, but I've only done it once. Unfortunately, you can't just smash up rice, you have to grind the grains in a blender or food processor, which is a little time consuming and noisy. I use the Kidco mini food processor, and it works wonders. So far I've made apples, pears, mango, sweet potato, butternut squash, green beans, peas, zucchini and yellow squash. We get our vegetables delivered from Urban Organic, so I just use whatever is in the box.