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.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

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.


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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 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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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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