7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Solids With Your Baby
Updated: Jun 20
Feeling a little lost about how you should start solids with your baby? You are not alone!
A 2015 survey by Beech-Nut Nutrition Company found that 54% of parents reported being “very confused” about starting solids. Parents were unsure about exactly when to introduce solid foods and concerned about choosing the right foods to support baby’s future health.
Most parents understand that starting solids is an important step for molding a child’s food preferences and future eating habits. However, with so many questions, some unintended mistakes end up happening.
Stay tuned and read this article until the end to find out 7 common mistakes to avoid when starting solids with your baby.
DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
Mistake #1: Starting Solids Too Soon
Nobody wants to delay their baby’s development, but some of us might end up jumping the gun for fear of it.
Parents can interpret a few common behaviors as signs that the baby is ready for weaning. These include their little one chewing their fists and waking up during the night. But these aren’t always the best indicators that your baby is ready for their first foods.
Starting your baby on solid food before your baby’s immune and digestive systems are mature enough to process food and fight against potential infections, can increase the risk for respiratory, GI, and ear infections. It can also cause your baby’s weight to drop due to early reduction in milk feedings (breast milk or formula).
★Aim to begin solid food around the 6-month mark, and when your baby has met the signs of readiness for solids.
You can give your baby a safe start to solid foods! This on-demand workshop will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to wean well.
Mistake #2 - Waiting too Long to Start Solids
Fear that baby may choke or have an allergic reaction to food is enough to give any mama a pause.
But delaying solids too long isn’t the best for babies. According to a 2009 study in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition, children who didn’t eat foods with a lumpy consistency by 9 months of age had more feeding and sensory issues at age 7 than those kids who experienced lumpy textures between ages 6 and 9 months.
Additionally, waiting too long to start solids may slow your baby’s growth, increase the risk for iron deficiency, delay developmental skills, contribute to food texture sensitivities, and according to the latest food allergy research, contribute to food allergy development.
★Instead, get started with solid foods around 6 months, and when you see the signs of readiness present. Also, if you are offering only purées, make sure that by 8-9 months you have started to add lumpy and finger foods. And always monitor your baby’s tolerance, including signs of an allergic response or choking.
>>Download the FREE Quick-Start Guide to Solids to learn more about the signs of readiness for solids.
Mistake #3 - Giving Your Baby Only Bland Food
You may have heard bland food is best for baby... easy on the digestive system and readily eaten. But is this really the case?
In the beginning stages of eating solid food (maybe the first couple of weeks or so), this may be true for some babies. However, research suggests that exposing your baby to a variety of flavors early on may encourage the consumption of many different foods later, and perhaps even reduce pickiness. According to some studies, foods we learn to like before age two are the foods we tend to eat for the rest of our lives.
★As your baby gets more comfortable around food and you add new foods to his diet, enhance the flavor profile by adding herbs, spices and aromatics. Be adventurous with spicy, exotic and highly seasoned foods. Just leave salt and sugar out of baby’s food. Their bodies are not equipped to handle those ingredients yet.
Mistake #4 Forgetting Important Nutrients
The first two years of life are critical for brain and body growth. Iron, zinc, total fat, omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, and vitamin D are important nutrients for this process.
Skipping iron-rich foods, such as meats, iron-rich legumes and vegetables, or failing to ensure adequate fat in the diet, for example, may compromise your baby’s growth and development.
Pay attention to food choice, and ensure all food groups and nutrients are represented. To meet iron requirements, which are higher between 6 and 12 months of age, aim for at least two iron-rich food sources per day, such as meat, beans, egg yolk or iron-rich vegetables like spinach.
★Be sure to include healthy sources of fat, such as avocado and olive oil, so your baby is able to get the calories they need to continue to grow healthy and strong.
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This workshop covers everything you need to know for dealing with gagging, reducing the risk of choking during mealtimes, and offering safe food sizes and shapes to your child.
Mistake #5: Offering Too Much, Too Soon
Baby isn’t eating? It might be because you’re offering too much, too soon. It’s important to go at a pace that allows your baby’s body to adjust to this new level of eating and digestion. Don’t try to go solid all at once.
★Start gradually with very small portions. Offer more single ingredient foods in the beginning. As your baby develops fine motor skills and increased curiosity about food, you can start to move to more challenging foods and bigger positions.
Mistake #6: Feeding Baby Separately From the Family
Separating your baby from the family meal experience may seem efficient, but babies learn by watching others eat. The family table is the best place for babies to learn about food variety and texture, and to experience eating as a social act.
★Try getting your baby to join family meals around 4-5 months of age, sitting in your lap or in a highchair, depending on baby’s development. Let them just watch, and once they’re ready, feed away!
Mistake #7: Avoiding the Mess of Eating
I’m not going to sugar coat...Feeding your baby is a messy job, with or without the spoon. We wipe their face after a couple of bites, clean their tray after every meal, and spoon-feed them to avoid the mess. But the real magic of learning about and liking food takes place when your baby is interacting with food: touching, smelling, tasting and playing with it.
★Avoid distracting your baby while they’re eating. Let them be. Let them experience food uninterrupted.
BONUS Mistake: Ignoring Satiety cues
Babies are good at knowing how much food to eat, and show satisfaction or fullness by turning away, shaking their head “no” or showing general disinterest. However, some parents may want their baby to eat more, or at least finish the food in the jar or the meal.
★Encouraging babies to eat more may undermine their natural ability to self-regulate eating, and may even teach them to overeat. If babies are showing clear signs of being finished with eating, let them be done.
Move Forward with Confident and Joyful Feeding
Starting solids can be a confusing time for us as parents and for our tiny humans. We are all doing the best we can with what we know, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve made any of the above feeding mistakes. Just take a step forward and make the adjustments you need to feed your baby well and with confidence.
Happy Eating & Feeding,