Introducing Solids 101

Feeding baby real food is as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. NYC pediatrician Deena Blanchard holds our (unsteady) hands.

Introducing Solids 101

Starting solids is a fun and exciting time in your -- and your child’s -- life. So far, you’ve only had two choices: breastmilk or iron-fortified formulas. Now a whole new world of food possibilities is open to you. Most parents look forward to using the spoon with their baby, but there’s a lot of different advice out there, and recommendations are often changing. This can leave parents with many questions. Here are some easy to follow guidelines to help get your baby started on the path towards healthful eating.

When can I start my baby on solid foods?

You can introduce solids any time between 4-6 months if your baby is ready. For your child to be developmentally ready, he/she needs to be able to hold her/his head up and have lost the reflex to push things out of the mouth with his/her tongue. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, but many parents will say that their babies seem interested and eager to eat solids before then. Until 6 months of age, the primary source of nutrition for your baby should be breastmilk or formula. It is okay to experiment with solid foods, but if you find that it is significantly decreasing your child’s breastmilk or formula intake, you should cut back. I encourage my patients to at least experiment with the spoon between 5-6 months, so that when your baby starts to need solid food as part of his/her nutritional composition, the spoon is not completely foreign.


What should I keep in mind when I start feeding?

First and foremost, this is supposed to be fun. So if you or your baby is uncomfortable, take a break and try again in few days. Solid food should always be given with a spoon, NOT in the bottle. Placing cereal in the bottle promotes obesity and requires cutting the nipples which can lead to choking risks. Sit your baby upright to prevent choking and start with small amounts. Finally, expect a mess!

Is there a perfect first food? Some say rice cereal, others oatmeal, and some say skip them and go right to fruit or veggies. What should I do? 

For most infants, you can start with any pureed solid food. While it's traditional in the United States to start your baby on solids with a single-grain cereal, there's no medical evidence to show that introducing solid foods in a particular order will benefit your baby. Many pediatricians now opt to start with oatmeal as there has been discussion of arsenic in rice. After starting cereals, you can introduce fruits and veggies, leaving about 3-5 days between new foods. This allows you to look for signs of a reaction such as skin or gastrointestinal symptoms (see below). At 6 months, you can start to introduce proteins into your child’s diet such as whole milk yogurt, chicken, beef, tofu, lentils and beans. At this age, all food should be pureed.

How do I know if my baby is having an allergic reaction?

Many children will get red cheeks after starting solids. This does not mean your child is having an allergic reaction. Often, the skin is sensitive to the food getting all over their skin. This is particularly common with acidic foods such as strawberries, citrus or tomatoes. A true allergic reaction would not be limited to the face but would involve the entire body. If you are not sure if your child had an allergic reaction to a particular food, check with your pediatrician.

How many times a day do I feed my baby during those first few weeks? How much?

Initially, most babies will only take a few spoonfuls at a sitting. Do not push your baby. Remember, the first few months are about practice and getting used to the spoon. You can try using the spoon 1-2 times a day from 4-6 months of age. After 6 months, you should start to feed your child regularly twice a day and then gradually add in a third meal to mimic a breakfast, lunch and dinner. You should allow your child to guide how much they eat. Your child will close their mouth or repeatedly hit the spoon away to signal that he/she is done. Once your child has shown you he/she is finished, then the meal time should end.

When can I start finger foods?

Once your baby can sit unassisted and bring food to her mouth, you can start finger foods. This usually occurs between 8-9 months of age. Fingers foods should be small (1/4 inch), soft and easy to swallow. Don’t fret if your child doesn’t have any teeth, all babies use their gums to chew on these foods. Some good finger foods are, but not limited to, cheerios or puffs, small pieces of well cooked vegetables or fruits, pasta, pancakes, small pieces of bread, or cheese.

What's the truth about allergens and food introduction?

There is no evidence that delaying introduction of certain foods reduces the incidence of food allergies in children. There are no current data available to suggest that introducing cow’s milk protein (except for whole cow’s milk), egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish into your baby’s diet needs to be delayed beyond 4-6 months of age. Therefore, you may include foods that are considered “more allergenic” once a few other foods (fruits and veggies) are tolerated. There is even some evidence that suggests early introduction of highly allergenic foods may, in fact, reduce the risk of development of food allergies. If your child has already had a food allergy diagnosed, or if he/she has recurrent wheezing or severe eczema, these guidelines may not apply to your child. If the above applies to your child, or you are not sure, your should discuss the introduction of allergenic foods with your pediatrician. Remember, these foods need to be pureed. Whole peanuts, tree nuts and other common choking hazards (grapes, raw carrots) (but not their ground formulations) carry a choking risk and should be avoided until your doctor feels they are safe.

What's a definite no-no in the first year?

It is very important that your child not be exposed to honey in the first year of life as this carries a risk of infant botulism.

Can my baby choke on puree foods? Do you think I should get CPR training?

It is highly unlikely that your child will choke on pureed foods, especially if given in small amounts. That being said, many parents do take infant CPR before they have their baby. I often recommend a refresher course when your baby is around 6 months of age, since this is when you will begin foods, mobility is on the horizon and children start to have the developmental ability to pick things up and mouth them.

Image source.

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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