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How to Help Your Baby Get Ready for Solid Foods -what you can do starting from birth

Learning to eat is complex! Give your baby a head start on solids even before he takes his first bite with these 6 strategies!
baby sitting in high chair self feeding broccoli

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Ahhhh, so you’re just out of the fourth trimester. Your cocoon like newborn is likely more interactive, smiling and alert. Let the fun memories begin! 

In today’s blog post we’re sharing our top tips to get your baby ready for solids!

Learning how to eat is a complex process! Babies need to learn how to move food around in their mouths, chew, and swallow… all while doing this safely so that food doesn’t accidentally go down the wrong pipe… but continue to breathe! Not to mention that each food tastes, smells, and feels different so their little brains have to take in all this sensory information too!… 

As adults we might take this entire process for granted. For a baby, this is BIG stuff!

Give your baby a good head start on learning this new skill by preparing them in these six ways… even before they begin eating any solids!

Give Baby Plenty of Tummy Time

We mention this first, because this is something you can do right from birth! While you may have heard of alllllll the benefits of tummy time, many parents don’t know that it’s actually important for getting your baby ready for solid foods!

Babies don’t typically want to lie on their tummy with their faces squished into the floor so they’re motivated to develop the core strength to keep their head and upper body up where they can see their surroundings. This core strength is also what is needed to sit independently in a high chair!

A smily baby laying on his tummy but using his hands to push his head and upper body up off the floor.

Help Baby Practice Sitting Independently

Most babies start learning how to sit somewhere between 6 to 9 months of age and this is a very gradual progression for most babies! 

By ‘gradually’, what we mean is that your baby first needs to have adequate head support and be able to hold their head up independently. Gradually over time your baby will be able to sit with some support from a caregiver and eventually they will be able to sit independently when they’ve got adequate trunk support. Initially, your baby may only be able to hold an independent sitting position for just a few seconds, but as their muscles strengthen they will be able to hold a longer length of time!

Seriously…who knew sitting could be so complex!

We recently came across this video by an Occupational Therapist, 5 Tips to Teach A Baby to Sit Up Independently that you might find helpful! 


Get Baby Comfortable with the High Chair

Sitting in a high chair is a totally new experience for your baby. 

Eating solid foods is a totally new experience for your baby.

Instead of introducing two new things at once, get your baby used to sitting in the high chair even before you start solids! 

For further learning: check out this reel on what to look for in a high chair

baby sitting in high chair while man, presumably, the father, prepares some food at the table

Bring Baby to the Table While You’re Eating

It’s no secret: children learn new skills by watching their role models (you) perform them. Babies do too! While you’re getting your baby comfortable with his high chair, bring him to the table when you’re eating. He can watch you do this thing called ‘eating’, which will help him understand that this stuff (food) that smells really great, is something you put in your mouth using your hands and then you move your jaw up and down to break into pieces and then finally make it mysteriously disappear somewhere in your mouth! 

Oftentimes you’ll find your baby’s eyes absolutely glued to the food/fork/spoon, as they watch it go from the plate to your mouth and back again! It’s next level adorable. 

Offer Baby Some Teether Toys

Once your baby has practiced sitting in the high chair a few times, you can then start to give her some teether toys to play with! Teethers aren’t just to soothe sore gums, they’re a great learning tool! Teethers help your baby to map out his oral geography. As adults, we have acquired all the tongue and jaw movements we need to move food around in our mouth and chew it properly. If you have a piece of food stuck between your teeth you can move your tongue to the exact spot where it’s stuck to try and release it. Babies don’t have that spatial awareness of their oral cavity yet. But teethers help them figure that out! When a teether presses down on their gums and cheeks, babies’ brains start to figure out where in space that part of their body is. 

Teethers also help babies to practice chewing motions and to help move the gag reflex further towards the back of the mouth. 

Here are some of our favourite teethers:

Try a Hard Munchable

A hard munchable can be thought of as a teether made out of food. This is a great next step but ONLY for babies who don’t have any teeth yet! To expose your baby to the flavour of food before they’re ready to eat, you can offer them a hard munchable. These are rod-shaped foods that will NOT get broken down by the jaws and will not dissolve in the mouth. 

Examples: 

  • large raw carrot
  • raw celery rib
  • pork back or side rib with the meat removed

The goal is not for your baby to ingest the food but rather to explore it! 

One last note about hard munchables: please wait until your baby has good sitting abilities and only offer them while directly supervised in a high chair.

A baby in a high chair gumming on a large raw carrot as a hard munchable.

How To Get YOURSELF Ready to Feed Your Baby Solids!

You’ve learned all about getting your baby ready for starting solids… but what about yourself? Who’s going to prepare you for this monumental milestone?

You may have a lot of thoughts and feelings as you think about feeding your baby solid foods. 

Sad…. from realizing how fast they grow up.

Relieved… at the thought of not having to prepare so many bottles or nurse so often. 

Worried…. about your baby choking or developing a food allergy. (oh hey, speaking of which, check out our free resource to help you through these common fears! You’ll find a sign up form at the bottom of this article).

Confused… about whether to do spoon feeding or baby led weaning

We know this transition can be overwhelming! Which is why we created our highly regarded e-course, Start Solids Confidently. We teach you everything you need to know so that you can relax and enjoy this time of feeding your baby!

Suggested reading: Why I Waited Until my Baby was 6 Months to Start Solids

jess and nita, registered dietitians
Meet Jess and Nita

Hi! We’re both Dietitians & boy mamas! We’re here to help you confidently raise kids who will grow up to be lifelong Happy Healthy Eaters. Dig into our site for kid-tested recipes & feeding tips. 

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