For all parents, a happy and healthy baby growing up right brings utter joy. Feeding the baby plays a huge role in this. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all newborns should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. This is primarily because breast milk has all the nutrients and fluids a baby needs to not just survive, but thrive, and with a fast-developing immune system too. 

There are many other benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the child, which is why it’s recommended for all unless maternal health is compromised in a way that makes breastfeeding dangerous for the baby. Even if the mother gets an infection like COVID-19, it’s suggested the mother continue to provide breast milk for the baby by pumping milk during the crucial first six months. After the baby completes six months, solid foods can slowly be introduced to the baby.

Read more: Diet for breastfeeding mothers

This process of shifting the baby’s diet from breast milk to solid foods is known as weaning, and it’s considered to be a delicate and auspicious process in India—often marked by a ceremony where the baby is first fed mashed rice or kheer. Though the process of weaning begins at six months, it can take up to two years to completely wean the baby off breastfeeding and get him or her used to eating solid foods only.

Read more: How and when to stop breastfeeding your baby 

It’s very important to remember that even though you should start introducing your baby to solid foods after six months, continuing with breastfeeding until the baby is completely weaned is very important—as important as sticking to the timetable of immunizations for the baby. Read this article to find out everything you need to know about weaning your baby through the introduction of solid foods.

  1. Signs your baby is ready for solid foods
  2. How to prepare food for a baby
  3. How to introduce solid food to the baby for the first time
  4. How to prepare the baby for feeding time
  5. How to know if your baby is eating enough
  6. Food allergy in babies

It’s important to remember that your baby is just learning to adapt to life in the world at six months old. As his or her muscles, brain, cognitive abilities, and personality develop, you will begin to see signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. The age when babies start showing these signs vary, but most babies tend to show the following signs:

  • The baby is holding his or her own head up.
  • The baby can sit against the back of a chair.
  • The baby is reaching out to grasp objects and occasionally trying to put them in his or her mouth.
  • The baby shows an interest in food, especially by reaching for things you’re eating and opening his or her mouth simultaneously.
  • The baby is able to swallow and doesn’t gag or spit out semi-solid foods.

If your baby is not showing any of these signs even at the age of seven months and has not taken to any semi-solid foods you try to introduce to him or her, you should talk to a doctor.

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You might be tempted to head to a store and get a few jars of baby food, but it’s best not to do so. This is because ready-to-eat baby foods might have preservatives and sweeteners that could alter the taste buds of your baby. Recent research on secondhand sugar shows that babies can adapt to sugar cravings early on and this could lead to obesity in later life. So, keep artificial sweeteners and preservatives well away from your baby’s diet for as long as possible.

And that should be easy because at six months old, your baby can barely chew food and will mostly eat mashed and sieved food—which is very easy to prepare. All you need to do is overcook rice, porridge, lentils and vegetables and turn them into a paste. Some fruits like ripe bananas and strawberries can be mashed up easily, but you can cook down apples if you’re worried about chunks of fruits posing a choking hazard.

There are a few things you absolutely need to remember here:

  • Prepare a small amount of any food you’re trying for the first time and offer your baby a spoonful or two. Only when the baby visibly enjoys it without spitting it out should you prepare a larger batch.
  • The baby’s first solid foods should definitely be pureed, and the consistency should be thin and smooth in the early days. You can try thicker and pastier purees after a while. Mix some breast milk or baby formula to make the food more liquid instead of undercooking it.
  • The first foods your baby eats should be high in iron, and should come from a wide range of food groups. Feeding just rice to your baby is not recommended—try feeding pureed vegetables, cereals, lentils, fruits and even chicken or non-mercury fish in the early days. Boiled and pureed eggs, especially egg yolks, are also a nutritious choice.

Believe it or not, babies can be extremely picky about their food—they’re experiencing it for the first time in their lives after all. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following things should be kept in mind by parents introducing solid foods to the baby for the first time:

  • Let your baby try half a spoonful of the food the first time. The baby will have to register the new sensation, and you’re likely to see a plethora of reactions and expressions—so keep a camera ready!
  • Introduce only one food at a time at first. Waiting three-five days between each new food can help you understand if your baby is allergic to any type of food or not.
  • Start with a bit of breast milk, then a spoon of food and finish with breast milk again in the early days. This will stop the baby from getting frustrated when he or she is hungry. 
  • Don’t force the food on the baby, especially if he or she turns the head away or starts crying. Remember that weaning is a long process, and your baby will continue to get nutrition from breast milk for the first few months anyway.
  • Expect your baby to make a mess, because it’s part of a learning process. Your baby is likely to get food all over his or her face, clothes and surroundings, but this is how a baby will eventually master how to feed himself or herself.
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You might find a lot of parents complaining that their baby is a fussy and picky eater, and becomes unmanageable during feedings. Mealtimes should actually be more fun than that, so you might want to try the following tricks and tips to ensure this:

  • Set a routine: Clean your baby’s hands and mouth before feeding and set up a regular routine like putting on a bib, placing a bowl and spoon, getting a plate of food for yourself, etc. This will warm up the baby and indicate that it is time to eat, and soon their own body clock will get ready for these mealtimes.
  • Get the place right: Keep a designated spot or chair for the meal, and make sure you sit right in front of the baby. This will also prepare your baby for the meal the moment you both occupy that space, and help you observe the baby’s eating habits better too.
  • Remove distractions: Make food the focus of mealtimes instead of switching on the television or keeping toys around. The highlight of mealtime should be the food and you, so engage your baby while talking and enjoying your own food. This will also help to avoid overeating, which children may do if they are distracted by a video.
  • Prepare yourself: Accept the fact that your baby might not finish all the food you’ve put in front of them, and that there will be a mess. Keep bibs, wipes and washcloths handy, and encourage your baby to learn hygiene.
  • Avoid mobility: A lot of parents feed their baby while seating them in their lap or putting them in walkers, which can give the baby the idea that eating is like any other leisure activity. It’s not, and this mobility can be distracting or encourage playfulness. Avoid moving around while feeding at all costs.

A lot of parents wonder if their baby is getting enough nutrition, especially once solid foods are introduced. It’s important to remember that your baby can only eat as much as his or her body needs, and overfeeding will never help them. Instead, it can cause indigestion, spit-ups, nausea and vomiting.

So, it’s better to look out for the signs of fullness that the baby may show you. Some signs of fullness you should look out for are:

  • The baby will turn his or her head away from the food.
  • The baby will become distracted and lose interest in food.
  • The baby will eat more slowly or purse his or her lips.
  • The baby might spit food out.
  • The baby might throw the spoon or the food away from himself or herself.
  • The baby might arch his or her back.
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Allergies can develop when you’re first introducing your baby to solid foods. This is a natural response that an immune system may have to certain foods, and it’s important to make a note of any food allergies that your baby might have. 

This is the reason why you should only introduce new foods one at a time and give a gap of two or three days after introducing a new food item to check if such an allergic reaction is happening.

There are a few foods that commonly cause an allergic reaction in most babies, and it’s best if you avoid them or introduce them to your baby’s diet only after the baby crosses the age of 12 months. These foods include milk products, egg whites, peanuts, shellfish, nuts and wheat.

Your baby may have the following symptoms in case of an allergic reaction:

If any of these symptoms show up, contact the doctor immediately and take your baby in for a check-up.


  1. United Nations Children Fund [Internet] United Nations Organization. New York. United States; Feeding your baby: 6–12 months
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. US National Library of Medicine. Bethesda. Maryland. USA; Feeding patterns and diet - children 6 months to 2 years
  3. Nemours Children’s Health System [Internet]. Jacksonville (FL): The Nemours Foundation; c2017. Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Foods and Drinks for 6 to 24 Month Olds
  5. [internet] American Academy of Pediatrics. Illinois, United States; Starting Solid Foods.
  6. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland. Ohio; Feeding Your Baby: The First Year
  7. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy [Internet]. Balgowlah. Australia; How to introduce solid foods to babies for allergy prevention.

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