Which Solid Foods to Feed Baby First?

4-9 Months

Start with iron-rich foods

By this age, your baby's iron levels from birth are low, and he needs this mineral for his growing body and brain. Pureed meat or iron-fortified infant cereal are good first foods.

At first, add a little water, breastmilk or formula to the meat or cereal to make it soupy. As baby gets better at eating, you can use less and less liquid.

Don’t expect baby to eat much at first. This is all new, so it’s normal for him to take it slowly or even refuse at first. And breastmilk or formula will continue to provide most of his nutrition.

Introducing veggies

After your baby gets the hang of eating iron-rich foods, like pureed meat or iron-fortified infant cereal (it might be a couple of days or even weeks), it’s time for veggies. Great firsts to try:

  • Pureed green beans
  • Pureed carrots
  • Pureed squash
  • Pureed green peas
  • Pureed sweet potatoes

Rule of thumb: Start with one single-ingredient veggie at a time, so you have a chance to notice any signs of sensitivity. Talk to your doctor if you see a rash, hives, dry skin or wheezing. Next, you’ll start adding fruits, but keep offering iron-rich foods and vegetables daily.

Introducing fruits

After introducing a few veggies, let baby try one single-ingredient fruit at a time. There are plenty of first fruits to choose from:

  • Pureed apples
  • Pureed bananas
  • Pureed pears
  • Pureed prunes
  • Pureed avocado
  • Pureed peaches

What your baby doesn’t need

Plain fruits and veggies have the perfect amount of flavor for your baby. You may be tempted to add things like sugar, honey, salt or other additives to make his baby food more flavorful, but your baby doesn’t need it. Adding them teaches his young taste buds to prefer the flavor of sugar and salt, instead of the natural flavor of his food, which can lead to picky eating. Plus, adding honey is dangerous. Honey can host a bacteria that causes infant botulism, an illness that can cause muscle weakness, breathing problems and a weak suck.

Read labels to make sure your baby foods don’t include these added ingredients, and be sure not to add them at home. 

What to expect when your baby starts solids

When your baby first tries solid food, he might spit it out or make funny faces. That’s normal and doesn’t mean he doesn’t like the food. He’s just reacting to a totally new flavor and experience he’s never had!

Babies just need time and repeated offers to accept new tastes and textures. In fact, babies can try a food 15 to 20 times before they like it, so offering a food multiple times is really important!

Here’s what else you can expect when you introduce solids: a mess. That’s also normal, so try to be positive and patient as your baby explores the fun, new world of solid foods!

Why variety matters

Once baby has tried a variety of single-ingredient foods, the real fun can begin! You can combine flavors, like peas and carrots, chicken and sweet potatoes, or cereal and bananas. Just be sure you don’t mix fruit into everything so he learns to enjoy the taste of foods that aren’t sweet.

You can keep expanding his palate, one new food at a time, while continuing to offer foods he has already tried, even ones he’s refused. You may be tempted to give up after six unsuccessful attempts with green beans, but it'll be worth it when next time he suddenly loves them. And you can feel good about your food parenting skills because teaching your baby to like a variety of healthy foods at a young age can help prevent picky eating down the road.

You will be the best mom with a baby who likes his veggies!