Age-by-Age Guide to Starting Solid Foods

When your baby first starts solids, offer him 1 to 2 tablespoons of food once a day, then add a second meal after he's responded well for a week or two.

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Juice Images/Veer

Solids 101

Breast milk or formula will still be his primary source of nutrition. As he gets closer to age 1, solids become more vital, delivering important nutrients and helping establish his lifelong food preferences. Try these menu ideas from Eileen Behan, RD, author of The Baby Food Bible.

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How to Start Solids

Find out how to start feeding your baby solid foods.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Age: 6 to 8 months

Baby should be getting cereals, fruits, and veggies -- in addition to three to five nursings or 24 to 32 ounces of formula.

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Choose a Baby Food Maker

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6 to 8 months: Breakfast

2 tablespoons of infant cereal. No need to stick with rice -- try other grains like oats and barley too.

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Alexandra Grablewski

6 to 8 months: Lunch

1 to 2 tablespoons of infant cereal, 2 tablespoons pureed fruit or vegetables (applesauce, ripe mango, sweet potatoes, or peas).

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Alexandra Grablewski

6 to 8 months: Dinner

1 to 2 tablespoons of infant cereal, 1 to 2 tablespoons fruit or vegetables (like pureed carrots and squash, banana, or pureed apricots).

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Linda Farwell

Age: 8 to 11 months

Add finger foods (and meats if you haven't already) to the daily lineup. Your baby should continue to receive three to five nursings or 24 to 32 ounces of formula each day.

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Fancy Photography/Veer

8 to 11 months: Breakfast

2 to 3 tablespoons of infant cereal, about 1 tablespoon of fruit such as diced kiwi, banana, ripe peaches, watermelon, or cantaloupe.

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Bryan McCay

8 to 11 months: Lunch

2 to 3 tablespoons of infant cereal, 2 tablespoons pureed fruit, 1 tablespoon finger foods such as whole-grain cereal, avocado, bits of tofu, or cooked and diced zucchini.

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Alexandra Grablewski

8 to 11 months: Dinner

2 tablespoons pureed veggie, 1 to 2 tablespoons pureed meat (like chicken or beef), 1 tablespoon finger food such as tiny pieces of pineapple, ripe peaches, mango, or diced banana.

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BananaStock/ Jupiter

Age: 12 to 24 months

Swap formula for about two cups of whole milk per day -- 2 percent if your baby is at risk of being overweight. Still nursing? Continue, but make sure solids are his main source of nutrition.

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Bryan McCay

12 to 24 months: Breakfast

1 slice of toasted whole-grain bread, 1 egg (cooked any style), 6 sliced grapes, plus 2 ounces milk. Snack: half a banana (sliced), plus 2 ounces milk.

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Alexandra Grablewski

12 to 24 months: Lunch

2 whole-grain crackers, 1 slice cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup soft-cooked, small broccoli florets, 2 ounces milk.

Snack: 1/4 cup whole-grain cereal, 1/4 cup small, ripe melon chunks.

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Bryan McCay

12 to 24 months: Dinner

1/2 cup whole wheat noodles with tomato sauce, 1 ounce lean ground beef, 2 tablespoons soft-cooked, chopped veggies, 2 ounces milk. Snack: 1/4 cup chopped fruit, 1/4 cup whole yogurt.

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Your baby can get all the hydration she needs from breast milk or formula, but you should still offer a sippy cup of water at mealtime after she reaches 6 months to get her accustomed to drinking from a cup -- and the taste of plain water. Go easy on the juice, which can lead to cavities and is linked to diarrhea in toddlers. After age 1, be sure she drinks about two cups of water each day.

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

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