Meal Ideas for Baby
Deciding when, what and how to feed solids to your baby as a new mom can be a little nerve wracking at first. Well trust us, you’re not alone. Introducing different solids and creating nutritious meals is important and easier than you'd think. We are going to break down easy, fast, nutritious baby meal ideas for even the pickiest baby (beginning from 4-6 months and up)!
When to Introduce Solids
Before we jump into meal ideas, let's talk about when to introduce solids to your baby. It's best to get the green light from your pediatrician before you begin, but according to the CDC, most children can begin eating solid foods by 6 months. Most pediatricians will give permission to begin introducing pureed food or baby cereal slowly at 4 months, but if your baby is not interested or doesn't like it, then waiting until 5 or 6 months is perfectly fine too!
The most important signs to look for that indicate your baby is ready for solids include:
- Your child can sit with little or no support
- Your child demonstrates good head control
- Your child opens his or her mouth and leans forward when food is offered
Meal Ideas: 4-9 months
When you're first introducing solids you don't need to worry about introducing foods in any certain order. However, most babies tend to like the sweeter foods a little better, so starting with something like pureed bananas, pears, sweet potatoes or fruit can make it an easier transition. Other foods to start with include:
- infant cereal (you can mix this with your breastmilk/formula or fruit purees)
- pureed and small bites of fruit
- pureed and small bites of cooked vegetables
- cottage cheese
From 4-9 months most babies focus on pureed foods because they aren't ready to chew up food. When looking at the pureed food, pay attention to the stages and start with stage one. From there you can progress as your baby becomes more comfortable.
- Stage 1 – pure pureed in which the food is liquid smooth
- Stage 2 – food is slightly thicker inconsistency
- Stage 3 – food has chunks
Start by giving your baby pure puréed food which is 100% liquid and smooth. This will help your baby learn how to maneuver food with their tongue in their mouth. Also, don’t be discouraged if most of their food ends up on their baby bandana bibs. That is 100% normal! During this stage, babies are mostly trying to understand how to eat and swallow liquid food.
As your baby grows older and learns how to keep food in their mouth and swallow more than they spit out, start on stage two. This will include slightly thicker baby foods that will challenge and strengthen their swallowing skills. Thicker foods could consist of yogurt, fruit with oatmeal or avocado.
Stage three baby food will usually include chunks of food mixed with the pureed. The food is soft enough that they can easily chew and swallow it. This could be things like chunks of meat, oatmeal, fruit or more. Once they are able to eat stage three you should also be able to cut up your own food and feed them what's on your own plate.
Meal Ideas: 9-12 Months
Generally, after nine months a baby is ready to move past pureed foods. Some babies may be able to start closer to 6-7 months. Start thinking more about finger food meal ideas for your baby. At this point, your baby will be able to chew on soft whole foods and swallow them easily as well. We recommend giving your baby small pieces of fruits and cooked vegetables they can hold in their hand and gnaw on. We also suggest you keep finger food snacks on hand in your caddy organizer so you are ready with food when your baby gets hungry!
Here are a few easy finger food snack and meal ideas:
- chicken with rice
- cheese with cooked pasta pieces
- baked beans (reduced salt and sugar) with toast
- scrambled egg with toast or crackers
- cottage cheese (full-fat) dip with pitta bread and sweet potatoes or fruit
- peanut butter toast, banana and yogurt
- banana (or any fruit) and bits of ham
- avocado, peas, cheese and crackers
Meal Ideas: 12-18 Months
By the time your baby is a year old, you should be feeding your baby well-balanced meals that include vegetables, grains, protein, fruits, and healthy fats. Pretty much anything you are eating, you can feed to them (unless they have allergies of course). Just make sure to cut up whatever you’re having into the appropriate size for your baby. Your baby will be excited to try new items and it’s perfectly normal if they don’t like some of the things they try.
Feeding baby can cause parent burnout so remember to keep it fun and try to introduced them to new foods when you and they are ready.
Don't forget to keep a towel and washcloth handy because as your baby learns to explore new foods it will be fun and messy!