All About Introducing Babies to Solid Foods

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Jaiden Swanson

Many new experiences come with parenting and feeding children. One common question is when and how do I introduce my baby to solid foods? 

When to Introduce Solid Foods

Introducing solid foods too early or too late can both be harmful to the child and affect their development. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children be introduced to solid foods around 6 months old1. While this is a recommendation, parents can discuss with their pediatrician the best timing for their child. Whole cow’s milk can be introduced at 12 months old, but not any sooner2. Cow’s milk does not have the right amount of nutrients for your baby’s needs. Introducing cow’s milk too soon can cause intestinal bleeding and kidney issues due to the high content of protein and minerals. Children under 12 months cannot eat honey as it may contain a bacterium that causes botulism. Infants are at risk for botulism because of a weakened digestive system. As they reach 12 months old, their digestive system can effectively eliminate the bacteria through the body.

What Foods First?

While some babies start teething around 6 months old, they still need soft foods that are easy to swallow. Some good options include mashed and unseasoned fruits and veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, or pears. Did you know that most pediatricians will recommend only offering vegetables for the first month or two because sweet fruits first could cause a baby to not want to eat vegetables? Babies can start to drink small amounts of water at 6 months old, when they begin eating solid foods. Sippy cups or cups with straws are easy for little ones to drink out of without spilling. By 9 months old, babies can be introduced to snack puffs and herbs in food, but still no salt!

Baby being fed6 Keys to Successfully Starting Solids 

  1. Look for signs that your child is ready for solid food: the ability to sit up unassisted, can grasp food, can move their head, and move their tongue.
  2. Make sure you have all the tools needed such as a chair, washable bib, and a baby spoon.
  3. Sit the baby upright in a chair with proper support to prevent choking. Learning infant CPR in case of an emergency can help keep your baby safe.
  4. Start by adding individual new solid food into their diet once a day. As they tolerate the food, increase the frequency. You will soon learn what foods they love and by offering foods individually, you can monitor your baby for any signs of intolerance or allergy. Common signs of an allergy can be red face, swelling, itching, sneezing or a rash3.                    

Delicious Sweet Potato Baby Food Recipe4

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 deg F or 190 deg C.
  2. Simply take one large, sweet potato. Scrub it and prick it with a fork.
  3. Bake for about 45 mins or so (depending on the size), until it feels soft.
  4. Once cooked, all you need to do is split the potato, scrape out the flesh with a spoon, and mash lightly with a fork!




This material is funded by UDSA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.