Starting your baby on solid food comes with a rollercoaster of emotions—you’re excited and nervous for this new stage and relieved that your tot will finally eat something other than milk. While it may feel overwhelming and daunting, it can also be tons of fun. As a pediatric dietitian and mom of three littles, I’ve seen it all when it comes to starting solids! To make this journey a bit smoother, I’m sharing my top 5 tips to help you and your baby enjoy this new adventure.

Tip #1: Educate yourself 

Equipping yourself with information is the first step. Nowadays, the baby food game has changed, and we know so much more than we used to. There are a few different ways to begin solids: purees, baby-led weaning, or a mix of both. Once you decide which route to take, consider taking a course that covers all the basics, including how to know when your baby is ready, what to put on the menu, the 411 on food allergies, choking hazards, and feeding schedules.

Some of our favorite starting solids courses:

Tip #2: Invest in a good highchair

The most important feeding product is a good, sturdy highchair that will safely support your baby while they’re eating. There are tons of options out there, but the best ones will have most if not all of these features:

  • Easy to clean 
  • Adjustable footrest 
  • Removable tray 
  • Slim build
  • Grows with your child 

These features matter because you’ll want a functional highchair that looks good and is comfortable for your baby. Here are some of my favorites that check all the boxes:

  • The Mockingbird highchair ($225) has a compact, minimalist design without nooks and crannies for food to hide. The removable tray and silicone straps are dishwasher safe, it has an adjustable footrest and tray, and converts into a toddler chair.
  • The Stokke Tripp Trapp ($399) highchair is made from solid wood and features an adjustable footrest and a dishwasher-safe tray for easy cleaning. It’s super stylish and grows with your kiddo.
  • The Keekaroo Height Right Highchair ($189.95) has an adjustable footrest, secure seating, a three-point safety belt, and a seat cushion for comfort. It eventually converts into a chair that can handle adults.

Tip #3: Taste the rainbow 

Eating should be fun, so allow your baby to enjoy the different colors, textures, and flavors of food! Introduce them to a variety of food groups, which will give them a dose of various vitamins and minerals right from the start. Unless it’s a major allergen, feel free to offer up multiple foods at each meal. Here’s an idea of what a week might look like when you try introducing a new food each day, mixing up textures, flavors, and food groups:

Week 1:

  • Broccoli 
  • Raspberry
  • Black beans
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Chicken
  • Iron-fortified oat cereal 

Week 2: 

  • Peas 
  • Yams
  • Pear
  • Lentils
  • Strawberries 
  • Beef
  • Kale 

Week 3:

  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potato
  • Apple
  • Peach 
  • Turkey
  • Quinoa 
  • Chia seeds 

If this feels like too much to handle, try breaking it down into simpler steps. Make a list of the different food groups and categorize them. Aim to introduce 2 to 3 new foods each week, rotating them out weekly. This way, your baby gets a taste of the rainbow while you nurture a future foodie! 

Tip #4: Embrace the mess—and streamline the cleanup

Starting solids is messy, and that’s how it should be. Babies use all their senses—sight, touch, and smell, not just taste—to experience food. So, even though it might not be what you want to hear, let your baby make a mess! Let them smear food all over their tray and finger paint with it. And instead of wiping their face between bites (would you want your face wiped every time you took a bite?), let them sit in the mess and really connect with their food.

That being said, this doesn’t mean cleanup has to be a hassle. Here are some tips to make it easier. First, feed your baby in a diaper only, especially in the summer, which cuts down on laundry. Second, place a splat mat or disposable tablecloth under the highchair, so you can just scoop up the mess and toss it in the trash (instead of getting on your hands and knees to scrub the floor!) Third, enlist the help of your furry friend—pets can be great at cleaning up those crumbs and spills!

Tip #5: Give yourself a break 

Although we all love a good homemade applesauce or avocado puree, sometimes we’re just too busy or exhausted to make fresh baby food, and that’s perfectly okay. Cut yourself some slack and buy yourself some good-for-you premade options for those days when you just can’t even. But keep in mind that not all baby food is created equal and some are definitely better than others. Here are some of our favorites, with simple, whole foods ingredients and no added sugar or salt:

  • Little Spoon delivers freshly made baby food right to your door (talk about hassle-free!). 
  • Little Bellies frozen fruit and veggie puree cubes are perfectly portioned for a quick and easy thaw or defrost.
  • Once Upon A Farm pouches are super convenient for tossing in your diaper bag or when you’re on the go.
  • Amara baby food powder is a lifesaver when you’re in a hurry or traveling; just mix it with water, breastmilk, or formula!
  • Beech-Nut jarred purees are widely available in multiple retailers. 

Hopefully, these tips will make you feel like a pro when feeding your baby. Starting solids should be fun, so don’t sweat it and enjoy the adventure!

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