I was so excited to finally start solids with our son! He had been reaching for our food, showing so much interest for weeks. And I finally felt like he had also met the other signs of readiness. But then, even after all the anticipation of getting started and all of my plans for how I wanted to feed our baby, I became really overwhelmed at actually getting going. What foods should he eat? Which are the best ones to start with? Anything he shouldn’t eat? How I do keep myself from being a panicked mess at mealtime worrying about choking? How much food do I give him and how do I serve it? These were all questions I had despite having been researching starting solids for weeks. I felt like I had plenty of knowledge but putting it into practice was harder than expected.
So if this is also you mama, I get it! It feels fun and exciting but also cumbersome and overwhelming. I’m going to share a few of the foods that ended up being some of our favorite first foods and why. We have ended up going a kind of combo approach to feeding- doing table food as much as possible but also with some purées. Trying for mostly self feeding but also a bit of caregiver feeding too when I felt like the circumstances needed it. But I think the foods I’m listing here will be helpful no matter how you choose to feed your little one!
So I mentioned we tried to do table food as much as possible- originally with the goal of full on baby led weaning. In this style of feeding, bigger is often better in terms of how you cut and offer food. This can be scary for parents because you get really concerned they’ll get too big of a piece off. So a good thing to start with or incorporate into your routine are foods that qualify as “resistive food teethers”. These are food items that basically your little one will chew/suck on but wont’ be able to really bite off or actually consume much of. They’ll help them learn the map of their mouth, help with their gag reflex, and with practicing self-feeding in a pretty low risk way. Some examples of these would be… a mango pit, a corn cob or chicken drumstick bone.
Ok so this one was super helpful for me because I was able to let him feed himself in a very low risk way. It’s a table food that is naturally purée texture. So if you’re going the purée route it works or if you’re going the BLW route it works for that too! Note, it will be messy if you’re having them self feed but that’s ok! With yogurt you’ll want to opt for an unsweetened/no added sugar full fat option. If you’re little one can’t have dairy, there are also some great non-dairy options as well. You can preload spoons for them to eat off of or let them scoop it with their hands too! If you’re letting them scoop it, you might consider adding a tablespoon or two of baby oatmeal to thicken it and make it easier to scoop.
I think this is on every “first foods” list there is. But here’s why I liked it – it was soft and easy for my son to gum when he was trying to take bites out of a large piece of avocado. It was also easily mashable for preloaded spoons to help him actually consume more AND there is often guacamole on menus or avocado as a topping when eating out so it became something I knew he could eat when we were at restaurants too. Pro tip: if serving wedges or halves of an avocado for BLW, it will be very hard for them to pick up themselves because it’s so slippery. You can roll them in unsweetened coconut, baby oatmeal or hemp seeds to give it some grip.
This was a food I liked for the various ways I could serve it, the easy to “chew” texture and the fact that RIPE bananas are good for constipation. We ran into this tummy trouble when we first started solids and because of the fiber in a ripe banana they can help with treating it. (A green/underripe banana can actually cause constipation though so be sure it’s ripe). We ate mashed bananas mixed with a little breast milk when getting started. We then moved to BLW serving approach with banana “fingers”. And then also, exposing small portion of the banana for him to eat while leaving the rest in the peel for him to hold.
This is one of my son’s favorite foods! He has had multiple varieties and just loves it! It’s thick so it’s scoopable by hand for those doing BLW, it also works great on a preloaded spoon because it doesn’t fall off the spoon when the baby grabs it. It works as a real vehicle to serve other foods in as well. For example, ground beef is a tricky texture because it’s crumbly but serving it mixed into hummus can help this. Note: many hummus’ contain tahini which is sesame which is considered an allergen so you’ll want to watch for a reaction when you first serve it. Or consult your pediatrician before offering if you’re concerned about allergens.
Yep, one of our favorite first foods is broccoli! Steamed large broccoli florets are great for those dipping their toes into BLW. It’s soft and easily come apart so it’s a relatively low risk food. It comes with built in handle (the stalk) making it relatively easy for them to self feed and it’s super nutritious! It’s a good source of iron but even better it’s a great source of vitamin C which helps the body actually absorb the iron! Iron is one of the most important nutrients to consider when adding solids because baby’s stores of iron have really depleted by 6 months. Some other good iron sources to serve alongside broccoli would be red meat, fatty fish, beans/lentils or eggs.
Eggs (and other allergens)
One of the things I found in my research is that the recommendation now (which has changed over the years) is to introduce food allergens early and often. So I knew I wanted to introduce things like nuts, eggs and sesame early. Hummus was our son’s second ever food and a great way to introduce the sesame allergen. With the ok from our pediatrician we introduced peanuts by mixing peanut butter into his yogurt and then moved onto introducing eggs next. I like eggs as an early food because the texture makes them easy to chew, they’re a good iron and protein source and once you’ve introduced them as an allergen alone you could add in some other things that can be harder to eat otherwise. For example- spinach is a tricky texture for a baby to safely eat. But chopped fine and mixed into an omelette? Much easier!
**I recommend speaking with your pediatrician when started solids but particularly when deciding to introduce allergens to get their guidance for the specific needs and circumstances of your child. What worked for and was recommended for my child may not be the same for all.
We tried a lot of other foods in those first few weeks besides just what is listed here. But these are some that I wanted to share specifically with other moms that are feeling overwhelmed by this process. These are the foods that helped me build my confidence in feeding my child and I hope they can do the same for you!