The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods – 2020 Edition (And 25 Best Homemade Baby Food Recipes)
Are you a new parent looking for ideas on how to plan your baby’s food menu? You are not alone. A lot of new moms and dads have no clue where to begin especially when it comes to feeding their baby with solid foods.
In light of this, I’ve decided to come up with a comprehensive guide to help introduce your baby to solid food. This is actually a very important stage in both your baby’s life and you, as parents.
In this article, I’ll provide you with useful and relevant information including the different feeding stages that you and your little one must go through. These facts will help you understand the process once your baby transitions into solid food. It will also give you a peace of mind knowing that you are properly guided with all the necessary details to make each stage a success.
There are so many important things to consider when planning for your baby’s food journey. However, you shouldn’t rush into it. So, I’ll start by giving you an idea of what to expect.
How do you know when it’s time to switch from breastfeeding to solid food?
Your breast milk or infant formula will keep your baby nourished for the first year. Since infants are not yet capable of swallowing and ingesting food for the first four months, they have to rely on milk to replenish their nutrients.
Most babies, in general, are ready to feed on solid food starting from four to six months old. However, it still depends on your infant’s development process. In some cases, your baby may not yet be prepared to consume solids at this stage.
Do not panic. Each child goes through their own development period. They need to be physically ready to take in solid food.
How can you tell if your baby is ready? Here are some signs.
- Your baby can already sit up on his own and hold up his head without requiring much support. He should be able to control his neck and head movements.
- You baby has doubled his weight from the time he was born or is at least 13 pounds heavy.
- Your baby should be able to sit straight when placed on a high chair so that he can swallow his food well.
- Your baby shows signs of interest in your food. You can tell this if he starts reaching out for your food or opens his mouth when you show him some food.
- Your baby should be able to move his food towards the back of his tongue and swallow it. As your baby develops, they learn how to control their tongue and move the food in their mouth and eventually swallow it.
Once you see these physical signs, your baby may be ready to move on from milk to solid foods. However, if you are still skeptical, you may also discuss this first with your child’s doctor. Your doctor’s professional opinion should always be considered in any decision you make.
Age-by-Age Guide to Feeding your Baby
We’ve created a simple yet comprehensive guide to help you go through the different stages of your baby’s food journey. We’ve categorized each step by age to make it easier for you.
0 to 4 Months Old
Immediately after giving birth to your little angel, you should feed him with your breastmilk or infant formula only. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing which is why he is still incapable of taking in anything solid.
You should feed your baby with milk as soon as he wakes up in the morning, in between meals and right before he sleeps in the evening. A good rule of thumb is to breastfeed every three to four hours or feed him a bottle of 20 to 28 ounces of formula on a daily basis.
4 to 6 Months
At this stage, your baby is most likely showing signs of being ready to take in solid foods. However, you should continue to feed him with breastmilk or infant formula because this will keep your baby properly nourished.
This is an exciting stage for both parents and baby as you both embark on a new stage in your lives. Here is a list of what you can feed your baby.
- Pureed vegetables (squash, carrots or sweet potatoes)
- Pureed fruit (apples, bananas or peaches)
- Pureed meat (chicken, beef or pork)
- Single-grain cereals (mix together with milk) or semi-liquid cereals (iron-fortified)
- Unsweetened yogurt (avoid cow’s milk)
Start by feeding your baby with one teaspoon of pureed solid food. You can mix the cereal with four to five teaspoons of milk to make it soft. You may gradually increase your baby’s consumption to one tablespoon twice a day.
Introduce your baby to one food at a time. Give it about at least three days before you offer a new menu. Observe if your child will contract any rashes or allergies from the food.
You should write down a list of foods so that you are aware of what you are feeding your baby. Keeping a food journal will make it easier for you to identify the source in case your baby manifests signs of allergies.
6 to 8 Months
Continue to feed your baby with breastmilk or infant formula. At this stage, you can add more ingredients to your food menu.
- Pureed or strained vegetables (add well-done carrots)
- Pureed or strained fruits (add avocados and pears)
- Pureed legumes (black beans, fava beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and edamame)
- Pureed tofu
- Cereals (barley and oats)
Gradually increase up to two or three tablespoons of fruit and vegetables in four meals. For cereals, you may increase it to three to nine tablespoons in two to three meals.
9 to 12 Months
Use the same feeding menu as six to eight months and add the following food below.
- Mashed vegetables (squash, potatoes, and cooked carrots, soft-cooked bite-size pieces )
- Mashed fruits (apples, bananas, peaches, avocados, and pears, cut into small strips or cubes)
- Cereal (wheat and mixed cereals)
- Soft pasteurized cheese
- Protein (poultry and boneless fish, small portions)
- Scrambled eggs, pasta, crackers, bagel
- Macaroni and cheese or casseroles
You can increase your serving size up to one cup of vegetables or fruits, half cup of cereals, one-third cup of cheese, or four tablespoons of protein food.
Pro Tips – Advice from famous blogs
We’ve rounded up a list of the top blogs about parenting with the best tips on feeding your baby. After all, the best way to learn is to listen to the experts. Here are some advice from people who know what they are talking about.
Baby Center is a great source of information for pregnancy and parenting advice. Baby Center provides parents with information from peers and other professionals to guide every stage of your child’s development.
If you want to learn how to make your own baby food, Baby Center advice you to invest in a blender, grinder or food processor. This device will allow you to puree your baby’s fruits, veggies or meat.
Parents is a community of experts to help and guide parents in raising their children. This will guide you through the various stages of pregnancy from toddler until your child grows up. This site also covers relevant topics including you and your baby’s health.
Knowing what foods to avoid is also important when plotting your meal plan. According to Parents, you should avoid honey, citrus, cow’s milk, nuts, raisins, popcorn, peanut butter, and cranberries. These foods may cause allergies, rashes, illness, and may possibly choke your baby.
Family Education provides parents with significant information on pregnancy, parenting, health, and child development.
They have tons of tips and advice to help enrich your family’s lives.Based on the research by Family Education, it is highly recommended that you feed your infant with baby cereal. It is the best type of solid food for your baby because you can easily adjust the consistency of the cereal by adding water. A baby cereal contains iron that is needed to nourish your baby and is easy to digest.
WebMD contains a comprehensive guide on everything related to your health. It’s a wonderful source of data especially if you want to learn more about the symptoms and treatments of any medical condition as well as other relevant information to improve your health.
Since babies need to gradually transition from liquids to solids, WebMD suggests that solid foods should just be an additional food to your baby’s daily meal plan. It should never replace your breastmilk or infant formula.
Mom to Mom Nutrition
Mom to Mom Nutrition is the brainchild of Katie Serbinski, a registered dietitian, and blogger who loves to share her journey as a parent as well as nutritional advice on motherhood.Katie of Mom to Mom
Nutrition advice parents not to feed your baby with solid foods from a bottle. Make sure you spoon-feed your baby from a bowl.
KellyMom was conceived by an international board certified lactation consultant to provide information and articles on breastfeeding and parenting.
According to Kelly Mom, if your baby doesn’t respond to solid foods, do not force them. You should try again after a week and prepare a different solid food. There are cases where some infants reject solids for months.
Homemade Baby Food Recipes
Homemade Baby Food Recipes is created by Christine Albur with the mission of sharing her baby recipes with fellow moms. This site aims to inspire parents to create their own homemade baby food.
The Homemade Baby Food Recipes highly recommend creating a baby food chart so that parents can easily identify the best type of food for each feeding stage.
Wholesome Baby Food
Wholesome Baby Food is a great source of simple, easy, and healthy homemade recipes for your baby. It’s a good way to learn about how to prepare solid foods for your little one.
The Wholesome Baby Food gives you ideas on how to prepare simple homemade baby food puree. They feature nutritious recipes and naturally fresh ingredients to keep your baby well-nourished.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that works directly with consumers to come up with a fair, factual, and reliable source of information for everyone. Their objective is to encourage buyers to make better decisions when it comes to purchasing products.
Based on Consumer Reports, when you are looking for the right type of commercial baby food, you should always read and compare the ingredients as well as the nutritional value of various brands.
Healthy Children is supported by pediatricians to provide general information about your child’s health as well as parenting tips. Their recommendations are backed up by professional experts.
If you are not sure how to begin to feed your child with solid food, Healthy Children advice you to let your baby drink a small amount of breastmilk or infant formula first. Once they familiarize themselves with the taste of milk, you can start switching to small portions of solid food. Afterward, feed your baby again with milk.
Correcting Common Problems
When Should Baby Start on Solids?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the right time to feed your baby with solid foods is when he reaches four to six months. In some cases, it can go over than six months.
During your baby’s first few months, their digestive system isn’t capable yet of managing anything solid. Usually, when they reach their fourth month, they can start to process small portions of solid foods little by little. However, the right time will still depend on the development stage of your baby.
It is always best to discuss with your pediatrician first before you start feeding your baby with solid foods. Your doctor can help determine if your baby is ready.
Which Solid Food for Baby is Best to Begin With?
If you’re wondering what type of food you should prepare for your first feeding attempt, the most common menu includes single-grain cereals or also known as baby rice. This solid food is recommended by most pediatricians and medical experts especially since it has a number of benefits for your baby.
Baby rice contains iron which is necessary for your baby’s daily nutritional diet. It is gluten-free and non-allergenic making it a good choice for your baby’s first solid food. Since baby rice tastes a bit bland, it is a bit similar to milk and therefore provides your baby a familiar taste in their mouth.
Its texture and consistency make it a good transition from liquid to solid. At the same time, it is easy for babies to digest.
What Time of the Day is Best for Feeding Solid Food for Baby?
Before deciding when to feed your baby, you should observe your baby’s mood first. Don’t just dive in whenever you feel like feeding your infant with solid foods. Take your time and don’t rush the process.
Pick a good time when you feel that your baby is in a happy state. Don’t even attempt when he is in an agitated state. Choosing the right moment will ensure your success.
At the same time, both of you can enjoy this special moment. A happy baby equals a happy mommy and daddy.
What Solid Food for Baby Should I Serve for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner?
When you are choosing your baby’s meal plan, make sure you introduce just one type of food. If you decide to use cereal, stick to that for at least a couple of days before you offer a new menu. Observe how your baby reacts to the cereal and check if there are any signs of allergies.
If your baby develops rashes on their skin or has diarrhea, stop giving him cereal. Ask your pediatrician for some advice to make sure your baby is getting the right amount of nutrients in a day.
I’ve Heard that it’s Better to Start Vegetables Before Fruits. Is This True?
Some experts recommend that you should start with vegetables before you offer fruits to your baby to avoid them acquiring a sweet taste. Although this is a standard guide, most parents do not usually follow this practice.
Babies are naturally born with a sweet taste. If your baby is accustomed to breastfed milk, they are more likely to feed on the sweetness of the fruit compared to vegetables which are bland. In this regard, most parents prefer starting their babies with fruits especially since they usually have a higher success rate than vegetables.
Although vegetables contain a higher nutritional value than fruits, most parents still prefer to take the easier route. After all, the main priority is to teach your baby to eat solid foods and get used to different textures in their mouth. If you choose to serve veggies first, start with the sweet potatoes.
Should I Offer Solids Before or After Nursing?
Solid foods are set to complement breastmilk or infant formula and not replace it. Milk should still be the main source of your baby’s nutritional diet.
Once your baby starts feeding on solids, you should nurse him with milk before serving him with solid food. It is usually recommended to wait for at least an hour after they drink milk before you offer solid foods. You’ll know when your baby is full when he starts to close his mouth, spit the food or turn his head away from you.
Nursing your baby with milk beforehand prepares your baby for a smooth transition from liquids to solids. If your baby eats solids first, there’s a huge possibility that they will take in only a small amount of milk afterward. You should avoid this especially since your baby’s primary source of nutrients still depends on milk.
On the other hand, if you plan on weaning early, you can get your baby familiarized with solid foods by feeding it first before nursing.
What if my baby refuses all or most solids?
Most babies don’t immediately respond to solids. There are a lot of instances when it takes several months before your baby accepts solid foods. Don’t get frustrated because the right time will eventually come.
Until your baby’s digestive system fully develops and is ready to take in solids, you should continue nursing him with breastfed milk or infant formula. If he rejects your first offer, wait for a few more days and try again. Your baby is the only person that can determine when the time is right.
25 Best Homemade Baby Food Recipes (4-18 months, Toddlers)
Now that we’ve answered a number of common problems, let’s move on with 25 of the best homemade baby food recipes starting from 4-18 months old and toddlers. These recipes are tried and tested. So, take out your apron and start whipping up a yummy treat that your baby will surely enjoy.
4 to 6 Months
1. Butternut Squash
A Butternut Squash is a highly recommended choice by experts for your baby’s first solid food. It is a nutritious meal filled with vitamin A and potassium.
This meal is delicious, sweet andhas a velvet-like texture. The taste is similar to sweet potato or pumpkin.
Slice the pumpkin and lay it face down on your baking dish. Wrap it in a foil and bake it for 45 minutes. Once ready, remove the seeds and scoop the squash in the blender to puree. Put in a ½ cup of water and milk to thin out the consistency.
2. Banana Puree
A Banana Puree is one of the easiest solid foods to prepare for your baby. All you need to do is peel the banana and puree it. Bananas are easy and quick to mash so it is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare.
At the same time, a banana puree is high in energy and potassium so you won’t have to worry about the nutritional factor.
3. Avocado Puree
An Avocado Puree is a good alternative especially if your baby has already tasted a variety of fruits and veggies. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals making it a suitable choice to keep your baby healthy. An avocado contains folate, fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin E, and healthy fats that helps in the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.
It is very easy to prepare. Just mash the avocado with a fork or blend it in a food processor. You can add water or milk to get the right consistency.
4. Brown Rice Cereal
Instead of buying a baby cereal in the grocery, you can save by making your own brown rice cereal. This solid food is a good choice for your baby’s first meal. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, iron, and magnesium to keep your baby nourished.
Put your brown rice in a grinder or blender and let it mix until the rice becomes fine. Place ½ cup of water in a bowl and mix with two tablespoons of brown rice. Mix it well until you get a thick and creamy consistency.
Never underestimate the power of carrots. A carrot mush is a good choice to include in your baby’s solid food plan. Get the organic carrots because they appear sweeter on your baby’s taste buds.
Cut the carrots into small pieces and boil it with water or broth. Cook for about 25 minutes and once ready, transfer it to a food processor to puree.
6. Go Green Beans
Get your little to eat greens with this yummy vegetable dish. It has a soft and mild flavor that will suit your baby’s taste.
Steam the green beans for at least 7-8 minutes until it becomes tender. Take it out from the steamer and transfer it in a food processor. Add some water and process until the texture is smooth.
Let it cool then place it to an ice cube tray. Another option is to skip the puree process and just serve the green beans as finger food.
7. Peach Puree
Pureed fruits are a great choice for preparing your baby in transitioning to solids. It’s a great practice food for your baby to practice chewing and swallowing.
Peel your peaches and slice them into smaller pieces. Steam the peaches for 15 minutes. Once they become tender, transfer it to a blender or food processor to puree. Then place it in an ice cube tray and refrigerate.
7 to 8 Months
8. Pear Apple Butter
You don’t have to buy a commercially made apple sauce. Instead, you can concoct this easy, safe, naturally sweet, and healthy meal. This homemade food is not only for your baby but adults can also snack on it.
You don’t have to buy a commercially made apple sauce. Instead, you can concoct this easy, safe, naturally sweet, and healthy meal. This homemade food is not only for your baby but adults can also snack on it.
9. Beets and Blueberry Mash
When cooked together, beets and blueberries produce a super nutritious meal for your baby. You can throw in some cereal to get the right amount of sweetness and variety.
Wash and clean the beets and peel off the skin. Chop into cubes and mix it together with blueberries in a pan. Add water and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until they become tender. Use a blender or food processor to puree.
10. Avocado and Banana
If you are looking for a high-calorie baby food, an avocado and banana mix is a great selection. Avocados are high in calorie content while bananas have a naturally sweet texture.
Cut the avocados and slice it. Peel the bananas and place both ingredients in the blender. Blend it until both fruits achieve a smooth texture.
You can opt to use a strainer to separate the lumps. Pour the texture in individual containers and refrigerate or freeze.
11. Pumpkin Thyme
This pumpkin based baby food is a good choice for a homemade healthy meal. You can add variety by mixing it with oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes or muffins.
Heat oven, cut the pumpkin into small pieces, bake for 40 to 60 minutes until you can slice through it easily with a fork. Peel off the skin and place in a food processor.
Add thyme and blend together. You can put in more water to get the consistency that you want. Another option is to add other purees including an apple or pear added variety.
12. Waffles W/Antihistamine Rich Basil & Ginger Infused Peach Compote
This homemade waffle palette is a healthy dish that can aid in indigestion. This food contains numerous vitamins for you and your baby.
Heat the waffle iron and mix the oat flour, eggs, coconut oil and milk, vanilla and salt in a blender. Then pour the mixture into the waffle iron. Combine basil, ginger, and fresh lemon juice in a saucepan. Put a little water until the mixture firms up.
9 t 12 Months
13. Quinoa Ratatouille
There are some commercially packaged ratatouille dish that are popular among babies. However, you can produce your own version by creating a texture with quinoa and vegetables.
It is full of vitamins and minerals including protein, iron, fiber, and antioxidants. The seeds in this dish are small enough to be consumed by your baby so you don’t have to worry.
Heat the saucepan with olive oil and cook the onions for five minutes. Add garlic, sweet pepper, thyme, eggplant, zucchini, tomato paste, tomato, vegetable broth, and quinoa. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add fresh herb and cheese. Use a food processor to puree the mix. Add water or veggies until you get the right consistency.
14. Chicken and Corn Cilantro
Introducing your baby to new ingredients and tastes is a great way to add variety. The sweet corn combined with the cilantro’s spicy palette, produces a unique flavor for your baby
Mix all the ingredients in a pan except for the corn and rice. Boil and cook for five minutes. Add the corn and cook for three more minutes. Combine all ingredients and add one tablespoon of broth or more until you get the right consistency.
15. Cherry Mint Greek Yogurt
The advantage of concocting your own yogurt means that you can adjust the amount of fruit you prefer orreduce the amount of sugar. If it’s your baby’s first time to taste yogurt then you can add more fruits.
Put the cherries in a saucepan and heat for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and mix with mint leaves. Puree the mix until it blends smoothly. Stir the yogurt with the cherry puree and serve.
16. Creamy Provencal Chicken
Use fresh organic chicken breasts, herbs, and creamy cheese to create this delicious dish. Mix the thyme, rosemary, marjoram, fennel, and oregano. Slice the chicken into pieces, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes each side.
Let it cool and then add into a food processor including the cheese. Add broth and puree. You can add it with rice, pasta or quinoa for variety.
17. Apricot and Banana with Cinnamon
Slice the apricots and peel the bananas. Use a food mill to grind the ingredients. Throw in a bit cinnamon and mix all together. Place in individual containers and refrigerate.
12 to 18 Months
18. Basic Cheese Sauce
This dish is very easy to prepare. Plus, it doesn’t contain any trans-fat or preservatives compared to a processed cheese. Thus making it a healthy food for your baby.
To prepare, add melted butter in a saucepan and put the flour gradually while mixing it. Do this for three minutes and turn off the heat. Slowly add milk and then cook for five minutes. Stir it well until you completely melt the cheese.
19. Banana Oatmeal Cookies
This fun and yummy dish is simply delicious. Just mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and use another bowl for a mixture of butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and bananas.
Mix the ingredients and put some flour. Transfer the ingredients to a baking pan and bake for 12 to 13 minutes.
20. Sweet Potato Pancakes
This recipe is not only fit for babies but for adults too. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in another container. Combine the two separate mixtures together and stir well.
Warm up the pan and put in a small amount of oil or cooking spray. Pour one tablespoon of the batter and cook for at least two minutes each side. Add more tablespoons as you like. Spread butter and syrup to top it off.
21. Georgia Peach Sorbet
This cool and refreshing treat is a sure hit for toddlers. Here’s how to prepare it. Mix water and sugar in a pan until it boils. Stir well until you dissolve the sugar then let it cool.
Meanwhile, place the peaches in a food processor to puree. You can add syrup, lime juice, and club soda for added flavor.
Put the mixture in an ice-cream then transfer it into a chilled container. Let it freeze and serve once ready. You can put some mint or berries on top for a last touch.
22. Fish Stix
This recipe is indeed a family favorite. Preheat your oven and put in some light cooking spray on your baking sheet. Prepare and cut the tilapia fillet into strips.
Mix beaten egg and water in a separate bowl and stir well. Place the fillet in the mixture then bake it for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve while it’s still fresh.
23. Black Bean and Curd Burger
This is a good option for a meal replacement because it is packed with a lot of nutrients and it is delicious too. Mix all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Once the mixture is smooth, make patties and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Cook the patty in a pan and add some toppings like fresh tomatoes or other garnishes.
24. Watermelon Water
It is a refreshing beverage to quench your baby’s thirst, especially during the hot summer season. You can also freeze it and turn it into a popsicle.
Cut some chunks of watermelon and blend until the texture becomes smooth. Pour it into a glass and add some ice.
25. Turkey Taco Bites
This fun and delicious meal is suitable for toddlers. Adults will love it too. Here are some quick tips.
Preheat your dutch oven and fold the tortilla. Add turkey and cook. Once cooked, take it out and set aside.
Put diced onions in the dutch oven and cook. Add some corn and put the cooked turkey back in the oven. Put some chili powder, chicken stock, salt, and cilantro and simmer for five minutes.
Add the turkey mixture over the cheese and put another layer of cheese on top. Bake it for 10 to 12 minutes until you melt the cheese.
15 Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Baby
- Cow’s milk – It is more difficult for your baby to digest.
- Hard raw veggies and large fruits – These pose as choking hazards.
- Caffeine– This will keep up your baby all day and night.
- Unpasteurized cheese – Some babies acquire food poising from unpasteurized cheese.
- Honey – It’s sticky consistency and texture is hard for babies to swallow.
- Whole nuts – It may act as a potential allergen. Aside from that, nuts are not suitable for babies since they have a smaller windpipe.
- Salt – Too much salt can affect your baby’s kidneys.
- Raw shellfish – This may increase the possibility of food poisoning.
- Marlin, shark, and swordfish – It has a high amount of mercury and may affect your child’s nervous system.
- Processed foods – These contain additives and preservatives which are not healthy for your baby.
- Marshmallows – These soft sweets also pose as a choking hazard. Some babies sometimes have a hard time chewing it.
- Fruit juice – This beverage is infused with sugars and sweeteners. Not a good choice for your baby to get used to.
- Refined grains – Some nutrients are stripped from refining. Avoiding this is a healthier choice.
- Corn – This may also pose as a possible allergen.
- Citrus or acidic fruits – The acidity content may disrupt the digestive system.