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How Important is a Baby's First Solid Food?

Babies have a lot of learning to do. Just when they're physically capable of digesting food, they might still be struggling with the concept of what "food" is, exactly. So when do you start to introduce solid food to a little baby, and what's the best way to do so?

Timing It Right

When should Junior get his first bites of solid food? Here's the easy answer: between 4 and 6 months. Pediatricians agree that bringing solid food into a baby's life earlier can lead to food allergies, and even after babies begin eating fruits, veggies, and grains, new food should be introduced slowly and carefully. So start with single-ingredient jars and take your time. After introducing a new food, watch for signs of allergies for a couple of days before trying it again.

Heinz Rice Cereal makes a natural introduction to solid food, either mixed with baby formula or breast milk. After they start readily eating rice cereal, it's time to slowly bring in smoothly pureed fruits and vegetables. Mashed foods can come shortly after, but remember: pace yourself and your baby's digestive system.

The Rules of Solid Foods

The keys to introducing solid food to a baby are taking it slow and doing it purposefully. Here are a few rules to keep in mind that can make the whole process work.

  • Introduce new tastes every two or three days. Show your baby a wide variety of flavors while giving them time to learn how different foods taste and feel. (No, not Sriracha.)
  • When feeding babies pureed food, consider giving them an age-appropriate finger food version of it as well — like soft, boiled carrots alongside the orange mush. And since pureed food can be so messy, Heinz Baby offers easy-to-eat pouches with a huge variety of flavors.

  • Bring textures in when appropriate. As your baby starts to grow accustomed to solid food, start introducing puree with lumps or mashed food with more texture.
  • Babies develop at different rates. If yours isn't interested in feeding themselves yet, don't worry — it'll happen. In the meantime, encourage babies to get messy in their food.
  • Your kids learn by watching you. If you show your baby that you enjoy eating fruit and vegetables, they'll be more likely to follow suit.

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Written by Reuben Westmaas January 5, 2018