Introducing solids to your baby is an exciting milestone for parents and their babies. It can also be a little daunting because parents want to ensure that their babies are ready to eat solid foods, that they introduce the best first foods, and that they prepare the foods correctly for their babies. As parents, we understand. We don’t want anyone to feel stressed when choosing their baby’s first foods. Here is a complete guide to help you during this new and exciting baby milestone.
Signs of Readiness: How do I know my baby is ready to start solids?
We encourage parents to look for these signs of readiness to determine whether or not their child is developmentally ready to eat solid foods.
- Sits up alone or with support.
- Can control their head, neck, and trunk.
- Attempts to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
- Appears interested in food.
- Opens their mouth when food is offered.
- Brings objects to their mouth.
- Transfers food from the front to the back of their tongue to swallow.
- Swallows food rather than pushing it back out onto their chin.
The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the CDC recommend that babies wait to start solids until they are six months of age.1,2,3 According to them, babies should only receive breast milk and/or formula before six months old. They say introducing any foods before four months old is not recommended. We know that every child is different and that pediatricians’ recommendations will differ. We suggest consulting with your doctor and looking for these signs first before beginning.
What are the Best First Foods for Baby?
Now that you know your baby is ready and your pediatrician has given you the green light to start solids let’s get started. These are the 10 best first foods to give to your baby.
Avocados are a great first food for babies. This is one of the most popular first foods parents give their babies. (It was the first one I gave both of my kids!) The nutrients avocados contain are:4
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
You can see why they are one of nature’s superfoods. Avocados are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber every baby needs.
How to Prepare Avocados for Baby
Purée: We love that avocados are smooth and creamy and can easily be prepared. All you have to do is peel and pit a ripe avocado. Cut a quarter of it out and mash it up using the back of a fork into a small bowl until smooth. Then, offer it to them loaded on a spoon.
BLW: If you are interested in doing baby-led weaning with your baby and having them self-feed, you can easily prepare this, too! Cut the ripe avocado in half and cut it into long, large strips for your baby to easily hold onto. This will allow them to hold the bottom half while they chew and suck on the top half.
Some babies aren’t a fan of the flavor of avocados, so mixing it with some yogurt or banana is a simple way to make it tastier and still a perfect first food combination.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another incredible superfood since they are high in Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and potassium. They also have Vitamin E, calcium, and folate. These are another favorite, especially with babies, because of their naturally sweet taste.
How to Prepare Sweet Potatoes for Baby
Purée: To make a smooth sweet potato purée, peel and chop one large sweet potato into half-inch cubes. Boil a pot of water on the stove and add the cubes of sweet potatoes. Reduce it to a simmer and cook until tender (around 15 minutes). Then, remove the softened sweet potatoes and place them in a food processor or blender. You can add water, breast milk, or formula for a smoother consistency. Blend until smooth!
Once your baby has tried and become familiar with sweet potatoes, add some yogurt and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon. I think this is delicious for the holidays!
BLW: There are several ways to prepare a sweet potato for baby-led weaning. One way is to peel and cut the sweet potato into half-inch to an inch thick strips and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until they are tender. You can also bake the sweet potato first and then cut it into long strips or spears. Or you can peel and cut the sweet potato into long strips and steam them in a steam basket over a pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes until tender.
Ensure the sweet potatoes are soft and can be pierced with a fork but not overcooked. If any of these foods are too soft and overcooked, they can easily fall apart and are more difficult for a baby to hold onto. Lastly, let them cool, and then serve to your baby!
Eggs are a fantastic food to introduce to your baby because they are an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamins, and fats. The egg yolk contains choline, which is great for your baby’s brain and eye development, and the whites are a wonderful source of protein, which are the building blocks for a growing body.
Parents need to know that eggs are a common allergen. In the past, experts believed introducing allergenic foods later reduced the risk of reactions. However, recent research has found this untrue, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends not waiting. Recent studies have found that introducing allergens earlier might be beneficial. They saw that babies who started eating eggs between 4 and 6 months were less likely to develop an allergy than babies who hadn’t eaten eggs until 10 to 12 months.5
Because eggs are a common allergen, it’s great to introduce them in the first month of introducing foods to your baby; however, they shouldn’t be the very first food for your new little eater. First, give your baby less-allergenic foods (like these others listed — vegetables, fruits, protein) and then offer eggs. My daughter has an egg and peanut allergy, so I know how scary this can be. I recommend giving this food at home, not at a family member’s house, daycare, or restaurant. When introducing allergenic foods, you want to pay full attention to their reactions within that first hour.
How to Prepare Eggs for Baby
Purée: For a purée, hard-boil an egg and then peel off the shell and the egg white. This leaves you with a ball of yellow egg yolk. Mash the cooked egg yolk in a bowl with the back of a fork and add some water, breast milk, or formula to give it a creamy consistency. Then, serve loaded on a spoon to your baby!
BLW: Scrambling an egg is an easy and great option for baby-led weaning. This is a very easy finger food option for your baby. They can easily pick it up and bring it to their mouth. You can also hard-boil an egg and cut it into quarters (the long way), and serve.
4. Stonyfield Yogurt
Organic whole yogurt is another great first food for babies. It is the first dairy food I recommend all families introduce to their babies because it’s a well-balanced food with several vital nutrients, including calcium and protein (which help babies’ bones and teeth stay healthy and strong). It also has healthy fat (which helps with brain development). It’s also easy for babies’ tiny tummies to digest.
I have been a big fan of Stonyfield and their YoBaby yogurt for years. I love how it is made with organic whole milk, has probiotics to help colonize baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria, and is #1 pediatrician recommended*. I also love how they are packaged in the perfect container size to serve babies. Just peel open the top, and your baby can enjoy! It is great served by itself and a great option to mix with other pediatrician-recommended first foods purées, or your baby can use it as a dip! Your little eater will love their first food experience with yogurt, and they will receive all the vitamins and minerals needed for their body.
Plus, all Stonyfield yogurts are organic, so you can feel good knowing they’re made without persistent toxic pesticides, artiﬁcial hormones, or GMOs.
How to Prepare Yogurt for Baby
Purée: Load a small spoonful of yogurt on a spoon and serve it to your baby. This can be directly from the Stonyfield Yobaby yogurt container, or you can place some in a small bowl.
BLW: Give your baby a self-feeding spoon with yogurt on it and a bowl of Stonyfield yogurt for your baby to continue dipping and tasting!
5. Green Beans
Green beans contain many essential nutrients.6 They have incredible health benefits and are a perfect first food for your baby. They are great for heart, gut, bone health, and more!
How to Prepare Green Beans for Baby
Purée: Put two cups of green beans in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam them until tender. (Usually around 10 minutes.) Then, blend the green beans in a food processor or blender with a ¼ cup of water until smooth. (As an alternative, you could add breast milk or formula.)
BLW: Cut the ends of the green beans off and have each green bean cut down to about 3 inches long. (You want it to be long enough for baby to hold and self-feed. You don’t want them too long, so around 3 inches is best.) Then, put the green beans in a steamer basket over boiling water and let them steam until tender. (This is usually around 8 minutes.) Let them cool, and then serve them to baby!
A first food baby and parent-favorite are bananas! They are sweet and soft and so easy to prepare. Some parents may say to hold off introducing fruit to babies since they might prefer sweetness over vegetables, but we think bananas are a great option because they are easy to digest and great for babies. Bananas are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and magnesium.7 They also taste great mixed with yogurt, blueberries, or peaches!
How to Prepare Bananas for Baby
We love how simple it is to prepare bananas for your baby.
Purée: Peel a ripe banana and cut it in half. Mash up that half in a small bowl with the back of a fork until smooth and creamy. Feed it to your baby loaded on a spoon.
BLW: Cut a ripe banana in half. Leave two inches of the peel from the stem of the banana and peel away the remaining top half. The peel on the bottom acts as a handle for your baby to hold onto. It helps your little eater hold the banana without it slipping out of their hands. Give your baby the banana and help them hold the bottom half. Watch them eat, and once they get closer to eating the peel, remove the rest of the peel from the banana for them to enjoy.
Broccoli is one of the best first foods for your baby. It is filled with rich vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, vitamin C, and more.8 One cup of broccoli has as much vitamin C as one orange does. It’s a fantastic first food for babies and is one of my kids’ favorites!
How to Prepare Broccoli for Baby
Purée: Get a head of broccoli and cut off the stem. Break the head into florets (or purchase a bag of broccoli florets) and rinse thoroughly. Then, get two cups of broccoli and put them in a steam basket over boiling water. Let them steam until tender, which is usually around 10 minutes. You should easily be able to puncture them with a fork. (They should also remain bright green. If they turn olive green, that means they are overcooked.) Next, blend the steamed broccoli in a food processor or blender until smooth.
BLW: This is prepared very similarly to the purée. Get two cups of broccoli florets and put them in a steam basket over boiling water. Let them steam until tender (around 10 minutes). You should be able to puncture them easily with a fork. Take them out, let them cool, and then serve.
We’ve all heard how great salmon is for our health, and it makes for a fantastic first food for babies, too! Not only is it rich in vitamin D and B-12, but it is also an excellent source of omega-3s. Omega-3s keep our hearts, lungs, blood vessels, and immune systems healthy.
How to Prepare Salmon for Baby
Purée: Yes, you can purée salmon for your little one. I recommend adding a vegetable like sweet potatoes or squash when you purée it. What you can do is grill some salmon for yourself and your family for dinner and then save a ¼ cup of cooked salmon for your baby. Put that in your food processor or blender with some cooked sweet potato. Add ¼ cup of water or breast milk while blending. Stop once it becomes a smooth consistency.
BLW: An even easier way to introduce salmon to your baby is to flake off some cooked salmon for your baby to try. And if you have leftover salmon in the fridge, you can also cut up long, thin pieces for your baby to grab, hold, and chew. Double-check that there aren’t any bones in the salmon and that there isn’t much seasoning on top. Your baby can then explore the salmon with their hands, or you can give them a baby fork to try it! My baby likes it when I load it on a fork with some yogurt.
There are many types of squash, like Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, Buttercup, and Ambercup. They all contain many different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, providing several health benefits like eye and skin health. Butternut squash is easy to find, readily available at the grocery store, and is a wonderful, healthy first food for your baby.
How to Prepare Squash for Baby
Purée: Get a squash (any kind), peel it, and cut it into half-inch cubes. (You can also find some butternut squash pre-cut in cubes at your local grocery store.) Place those squash cubes in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Let it steam until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork, usually around 10-12 minutes. Then, when tender, put the cubes in a food processor or blender and blend with a ¼ cup of water until you reach your preferred consistency.
BLW: Get your preferred squash, wash it, peel it, and then cut into long, thin strips. Place them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and let it steam until tender. (Usually 10-12 minutes.) Let them cool and serve to your baby.
Another great first food for babies is pears. They provide essential nutrients and a significant amount of fiber. Many parents give their babies pears if their little one is constipated. (Too many bananas can sometimes cause constipation, so pears are a great choice to help with that issue!)
How to Prepare Pears for Baby
Purée: Get one ripe pear and cut it into cubes or slices. (Peeling is optional.) Place those pieces in a steam basket over a pot of boiling water. Let it steam until those pieces are tender (usually about 8-10 minutes). Put those tender pieces in your food processor or blender and mix until smooth, slowly adding a little water. You can work up to making a yummy meal by adding green beans and yogurt to this purée for baby.
BLW: For baby-led weaning, peel or leave the skin on your ripe pear and slice it into long, thin pieces or spears. (There are a lot of nutrients in the skin, so some parents keep it on, but for the first time, you can peel it off.) Place those thin pieces in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and let it steam until tender. You don’t want them to get too soft and fall apart, so check them around 6-8 minutes. Take them out once tender and let them cool. Then, serve them to your baby.
Things to Keep in Mind When Starting Solids With Your Baby
When you begin introducing foods to your baby, start with one single ingredient food at a time. This will allow you to see if your baby has any reactions to the food or has food allergies. Some allergic reactions are rashes, hives, diarrhea, and vomiting. If your baby experiences any of these, stop giving that new food and call your child’s pediatrician. It is recommended to wait 3 to 5 days before introducing a new type of food to a baby. Slowly, you will see how your baby reacts to the different foods, one at a time, and then you can begin mixing them!
Parents’ primary concern when starting solids with babies is choking. Some foods are potential choking hazards.9 If choking is your main concern, begin with only purées. Once you feel more comfortable and confident that your baby’s oral skills have developed, you can introduce thicker foods.
Another great option is mixing yogurt with fruits and vegetables. Babies love it, and it’s good for them too! As I mentioned, whole milk yogurt is a great healthy first food for baby because it’s full of calcium and protein. Stonyfield has some great options already made and available for your little one, like their YoBaby Banana & Strawberry, Blueberry & Apple, and Peach & Pear. This makes it super easy for parents. And they are super delicious, too! They also have plain yogurt that you can use on its own or mix with other food options! There are tons of recipes that you can do to create a delicious first food experience for your baby. Bon appétit!
*For babies 6 months to 2 years, refrigerated yogurts (IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15-08/31/17)