Baby Basics

What Are The Best First Foods For Baby?

I think my son is ready to have more than just milk for meals, but how do I know for sure? What are the best first foods?

Generally, babies are ready to start trying solid foods around six months, but it's ok to start as early as four months. If your baby is showing interest in other foods (think grabbing for your chicken wings and staring at your cereal) and able to sit up in his high chair, it's probably a good time to start. It's best to run it past your pediatrician before starting the taste tests, though.

While many parents think of the standard first food as single-grain baby cereal (often rice cereal or oatmeal) mixed with breast milk or formula, New York City pediatrician Preeti Parikh, MD, says there's no official scientific data that says you have to start with that. Start with one food item a day — as long as it's pureed — from whole-grains to strained, mashed and finely pureed fruits and veggies like bananas and sweet potatoes. Allow about at least two to three days between each new food introduction to monitor for allergic reactions. And introducing new foods early in the day better allows you to be on the lookout for possible reactions.

At nine months, it's time to start introducing new textures. Baby's diet should be similar to yours, but with much smaller pieces, since he's still getting the hang of this whole chewing thing. Three meals and two snacks per day are ideal.

Stay away from honey until baby is at least a year. Some pediatricians recommend against fish and eggs in baby's first year, but there's actually no evidence that early introduction to them can cause allergies. You can also introduce real milk at 12 months. If he doesn't like that, try cheese or yogurt instead. By now, most of his calories should be coming from solid foods. Don't ever force foods — if baby repeatedly refuses to try something new, he's simply not ready yet. And remember, baby still needs breast milk or formula until at least a year.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Make Your Own Baby Food

Baby Food Recipes for Every Stage

Best Foods for Baby (and a Few to Avoid)

By Preeti Parikh, MD, pediatrician at Pediatrics of New York, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Director of Programming at HealthiNation.com