I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
For being such a seemingly simple thing, introducing solids to babies actually involves a lot of consideration. Parents need to know when their baby is ready for solids, whether to do purees or baby-led weaning, and even being aware of food allergies and how to recognize if your baby has a reaction.
But there’s one more thing to consider and that’s the order we introduce solids to a baby.
Now before we dig in, I’m going to say (like I do in most of my posts concerning raising kids): even if you don’t follow all the rules, even if you are feeding your baby junk food… they are still going to turn out fine.
So if you haven’t been feeding your baby this way or after reading this you decide it’s not for you, then no worries.
Did you know that there is an order to which foods we should introduce our babies to? I’m not talking about how easy the food is to chew either, I’m talking about when to introduce meat, when to add dairy into their diet, when to give babies grains.
Now we are going to get a bit scientific here. As I’m sure you are aware of, babies continue developing even after they are born. This is true of their digestion as well. That’s why I’m writing this baby food schedule based on a baby’s enzyme development.
Enzymes are needed to digest our food, without them digestive problems and allergies can occur. In the beginning, babies only have the enzyme: lactase, which handily enough is what is needed to digest breastmilk. Other enzymes, which help digest proteins, fats, starches, and carbohydrates, develop as baby grows.
Baby Food Schedule Based on a Baby’s Enzyme Development
Produce – 6-9 months.
Around 6-9 months babies produce the enzymes, which help digest fruits and vegetables. Notice I didn’t say rice cereal?
Egg yolk – 6-9 months.
Some families with egg allergies avoid eggs altogether. However, all babies should not have egg whites until 12 months due to the high allergy possibility.Egg yolks however are fine. You can boil an egg and feed the baby just the yolk or you can separate the egg before cooking and cook just the yolk for your baby.
Meats – 6-9 months.
This is pretty much any meat with of course the exception of fish (after 1 year) and shellfish (after 2 years) due to the allergy possibility.Babies may not enjoy the texture of real meat so many parents puree it a bit. I add meat to my daughter’s veggie purees.
Broth – 6-9 months.
Homemade broth from chicken or even beef is a wonderful thing to add to your baby’s meals. Cook vegetables in broth, puree meats or veggies with broth, or just offer it by itself!
Healthy Fats – 6-9 months.
Babies need fat to develop properly. Adding healthy fats such as butter or coconut oil to your baby’s food is a great thing. In fact, when fat is added to vegetables, the nutrients are better absorbed! One more reason to add fats to baby’s and your food!
Dairy – 9-12 months.
Around this time you can introduce dairy. Cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc are all great. However, leave cows milk out until after 12 months.
Grains – Sometime later, between 12-18 months
When a baby’s 1 year molar teeth are fully developed, babies are ready to start properly digesting grains. This is shocking news to most people.
All we ever hear is to start them on rice cereal and that cheerios make a great baby snack.However, this is quite far from the truth! The enzyme to digest grains is one of the last to develop!
When you are finally ready to introduce grains to your baby, non-gluten grains (rice, quinoa, millet) should be introduced first. Gluten grains (wheat, barley, oats) can be introduced last, I personally wait until my baby is 2 years old before adding in gluten.
Foods to avoid until after baby turns 1:
Choking Hazards such as raisins, grapes, popcorn
You can read more about what to feed a baby at the Weston A Price Foundation.