Beyond the Puree: 5 Tips for Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

By Ebony Porter, October 26, 2015, Recipes

Your baby is in the full swing of eating solid foods with your homemade purees, and is having a ball in the process. She is sitting up with her head held high, and might even be reaching for foods on your plate. Are you ready to take her eating into more adventurous waters and introduce her to finger foods?

Beyond the Puree: 5 Tips for Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Admittedly, you should REALLY cut that fruit into really small pieces so your baby doesn’t choke, but you get the idea.

Keep in mind that moving further into the world of solid foods does not replace breastfeeding or formula. This is simply an addition. She still needs those key nutrients from the breast milk to continue her rapidly growing body.

Between the ages of 7-9 months, a baby enters the curious world of feeding herself. She still needs parental supervision because along with more solid foods, comes the potential for choking. But this is also a time of giving her a first taste of independence, which she is sure to love.

1. Start Small

Like any major step in life, it’s best not to overwhelm her. Start small with one offering at first, and work your way into a smorgasbord of foods. Remember this lays the foundation for a lifelong love of nutrition and whole food eating habits. No need to put a deluge of color and variety on her plate just yet.

2. What Does She Like?

The best route to success with a child is to see what she responds to, and then build from there. Is she a huge sweet potato and carrot fan? Does she love those stewed apples you’ve been making her? By now, you know what her favorites are. Try stewing those apples and rather than putting them in the food processor, cut them into small chunks a ¼ inch in size.

3. This isn’t Fast Food

Beyond the Puree: 5 Tips for Introducing Baby to Solid Foods

Yes, she’ll make a mess. That’s MORE than OK. Just use this time to let her explore her senses. You can clean up when she goes to bed.

Try to introduce baby to this new style of solids when you have plenty of time on your hands. Remember how young she is, and that every sense around her is new and exciting. Allow her to enjoy this time, and you’ll enjoy it, too.

Set the rhythm for dinner time to be one where baby is allowed to indulge in this new activity. Eating fast or being rushed to finish dinner isn’t good for an adult, let alone a growing baby’s digestive system.

4. Size and Texture Matters

They aren’t using their pinchers just yet, that is, their thumb and index finger, so food will be grabbed at with a whole hand. Cut well-cooked fruits or vegetables into 1/4 inch pieces. Make sure these are ‘melt in your mouth’ soft and small enough so they are easy on baby’s gums to chew and then swallow.

If most of the food you give them ends up on the floor, it’s OK. Take a deep breath and relax. Remember that this is a time of new sensory explorations for baby. Once baby realizes that a bit of food will cure her hunger, less will land on the floor, and more will find its way into her tummy.

5. Teach By Example

While many babies are grabbing at everything at this age, she might be reluctant to grab a piece of solid food herself, as she’s used to you spoon feeding her. Babies and children learn by example. Put together a small plate of foods in front of baby, and you yourself pick a few pieces up and into your mouth, all the while saying “Mmmmm!” In no time flat, she will be following in your footsteps into the world of eating on her own.

In general, follow this basic rule of thumb for introducing your baby to solid foods: “Food is Fun Until One!” By giving your child the time and space to explore new foods, she will appreciate the process of eating, and you won’t stress out over the feeding and cleaning. Make this an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for helping a baby enjoy solid foods for the first time? Share with us in the comments!

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