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5 signs your baby is ready for the next stage of feeding

And one Motherly-tested recommendation to make sure you are too, mama.

5 signs your baby is ready for the next stage of feeding

Most parents have a vision in their mind of sitting around the dinner table with their family in the years to come. But long before you get to the stage of roasted turkey and green bean casseroles there is the matter of starting your baby on solid foods.

Just like your baby will likely crawl before they walk, starting solids is a gradual transition from the liquid diet they have been on to the complex meals you dream of one-day sharing.

As you begin your own journey into the land of solid foods, here's what to keep in mind:

1. Letting your baby, not the calendar, be in charge

"My best tip for parents is to let baby be your guide," says Katie Ferraro, an infant feeding specialist, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco Graduate School of Nursing and mother of seven who writes Fortified Family. "Learn to be a responsive feeder, looking for and responding to baby's cues about hunger, fullness and willingness to try new tastes, flavors and textures."

Also important? Remembering to enjoy the experience, too, which Ferraro says was easy to do with the flash-frozen, organically sourced baby meals from Raised Real. "I try all of the foods that I serve my babies, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the Raised Real meals were," she says.

2. Watching for signs of readiness and interest

The first challenge is knowing when to start solids, which is defined as anything other than breast milk or formula. Although some pediatricians sign off on the introduction of some solids between the ages of 4 and 6 months, studies show there are risks associated with starting solids too early, such as choking, food aversions and the deprivation of nutrients found in breast milk or formula.

Many experts, including Ferraro, agree it is best to wait until baby is at least 6 months. But even that isn't a hard-and-fast rule, as Ferraro explains some of her children were born early and didn't show food-readiness signs until later. Those signs include the ability to sit with minimal assistance, reduced tongue thrust reflex and an active interest in what's on your plate.

"As your baby gets closer to the ready to eat mark, he or she will start showing massive interest in what you are eating," Ferraro says. "Baby starts eyeballing you big time and may mimic chewing movements and reach and grab for your food."

3. Starting with purees

If you opt to start with purees, keep in mind that your baby has been used to a liquid diet for six or so months—so a high liquid content and smooth consistency may make for an easier transition. It may also help to add breast milk or formula to reduce the viscosity and to help your baby warm up to the new flavor they are suddenly experiencing.

With Raised Real, you really are in control of this: By giving you the option of how to prepare the meal—pureed, mashed or served whole—you can tailor it to your baby's specific needs.

4. Adding in some texture

By the time your baby's tongue thrust reflex has really receded—meaning they don't push everything out of their mouths—you can graduate to foods that require a bit more mashing work on their parts.

This is a simple matter of hitting the pulse button on the blender rather than the puree button with Raised Real meals. All the while, you can be confident you are giving your baby nutritionally balanced meals.

"As a dietitian I'm always interested in the quality of food that I feed my kids," says Ferraro. "I like that the Raised Real meals feature a variety of fruits, grains and vegetables, plus an added fat which is important for baby's brain development."

5. Introducing finger foods

If your baby tries to grab the spoon away and actively feed themselves, go on and give them a chance. With soft finger foods like steamed sweet potatoes, beets, zucchini and more, Raised Real meals are designed to be appropriate for baby to eat without any pureeing or mashing.

As a bonus, research shows children who are introduced to spices at an early age go on to be more developed palates. That means the seasonings like tumeric and cardamom found in Raised Real meals do more than make for tasty dinners—they prime your child for a lifetime of adventurous eats.


With directions on how to perfectly prepare meals no matter what serving method you (and your baby) adopt, Raised Real grows with both of you.

This article was sponsored by Raised Real. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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