Starting solids is a significant milestone for babies. It may be met with anxiety or excitement—perhaps a little bit of both—for new parents. While we always recommend parents first consult with their pediatrician for recommendations on starting solids, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting with a soft or pureed single-ingredient new food from any food group every 3-5 days. Keep an eye out for any reactions. The AAP also recommends that within a few months of starting solid foods, the baby’s diet should include a variety, such as breast milk, formula, or both, in addition to meats, cereal, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and fish.
Once your baby has been introduced to single-ingredient foods and mastered some crucial skills like swallowing, you can start incorporating new flavors into their diet. But where to begin? Here we’re sharing some of our editors’ best tips for introducing new foods and flavors to babies.
1. Lean on Baby Purees
With my first baby, I was all about preparing her baby food on my own. Organic kale, sweet potatoes, chicken—you name it, I pureed it. But I wasn’t sure whether she was getting all the necessary nutrients. And I didn’t have time to be that creative with her meals, given the time it took to prepare all that food.
When my second kid was ready to start solids, I was team pureed baby pouches. But not every baby puree is the same. Let’s look at the baby food brand, Cerebelly. This brand was founded by a neurosurgeon mom who made it her company’s mission to tailor their food to a baby’s growing brain. That means every organic baby food pouch contains the nutrients needed to support a baby’s cognitive development. Cerebelly is also the first shelf-stable baby food to receive the Clean Label Purity Award certification, meaning it is free of contaminants and heavy metals.
And Cerebelly has tons of purees to help introduce your baby to new flavors—like Butternut Squash White Bean, Carrot Beef Broth, Sweet Potato Mango, and so many more. Cerebelly’s purees include vegetables not only for nutritional benefits and to lower sugar intake, but to help train babies’ palates to help reduce picky eaters and allow kids to acquire a taste preference for veggies early on. Conveniently, Cerebelly offers variety packs through their website, so you can feed your little one different flavors and see what they like. Take advantage of their special offer by using code EVERYMOM20 for 20% off your first order! Or add a few to your cart with your next Target order or Target run.
2. Give Them a Taste of What You’re Having
One sign your baby is ready for solid foods is when they look interested in what you’re eating. So another way to introduce new flavors to babies is to let them try what you’re eating (also a foundation of baby-led weaning). Start with small, soft bites and see how they do.
3. Pace Yourself
As one of our editors said, there is “no reason to dump the whole spice jar in one meal. Taste evolves, so gradually introducing flavors can also be part of the plan.” You have plenty of time to introduce new flavors and textures as your baby grows.
4. Try, Try Again
Nutritionist and contributor Dana Peters previously shared with us the reality that many vegetables are naturally bitter and have unique textures. And just like adults, it may take time for little ones to get used to the new taste or texture. Even if your little one spits out a specific food or doesn’t seem to enjoy a flavor the first time, give it a few days and try again.
5. Serve a Variety at Every Meal
Even if your baby leaves a particular food on their high chair tray each time, that’s OK. At some point, hopefully, they’ll grab it and try it. The important thing is to introduce new flavors and textures consistently. If you’re concerned about food waste, just add a small amount so you won’t feel bad if it all goes down the garbage disposal.
6. Add New Flavors to Something They Already Like
By pairing something you know they already like with a new flavor, they could be more likely to try it. This can mean baking new flavors or ingredients into foods. Perhaps, bake veggies into muffins or spread a new type of nut butter on bread or crackers. It could mean adding sauce to their favorite noodles or offering a dipping sauce for their favorite hand-held snack.
7. Honor Their Preferences
No adult likes every type of food, so why should babies? When they decide something is their favorite, it’s OK to continue serving it to them. Plus, as most seasoned parents know, their favorite food this month may become the food they detest next month.
8. Consider Licking a Win
My daughter was a bona fide picky eater. So much so that her pediatrician had us meet with a nutritionist. One mindset shift that helped us was to consider licking a step in the right direction. Even licking was a step towards expanding her ever-growing palette. So if your baby only tries something with the tip of their tongue—count it!
This post was in partnership with Cerebelly, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.