Moving your baby from liquid to solid food is a big step in early development, so it's best to approach this stage with as much information as possible. There are a few things to look for to make sure your infant is ready to try solid foods, as well as some key steps to help you both along the way.
First, make sure your baby is ready for solid foods. As most new parents know, your baby will and should only have liquids for the first few months. There are certain skills required for eating solid foods that many infants need to develop, such as proper head control, chewing, and moving foods from the front of the mouth to the throat.
At about four to six months, you may notice that your child has an interest in your foods, and if they seem to be gaining a firm control on some early motor skills, then (with an OK from your child's physician) they may be ready for solid foods. Keep in mind though, the switch will not be overnight, and introducing solid foods will need to be done in between liquids.
While keeping your baby on their regular liquid schedule, you may begin to introduce a few solid foods, such as baby cereal and pureed fruits and veggies. Your little one may not like all the new tastes, so be aware that they may be picky at first.
Gerber offers a huge selection of baby food, with tons of different pureed fruits and veggies in jars, so these may be a good start (and for the price per jar, they're a good deal, too!). Gerber also offers an array of rice cereal, and Cheerios have always been a favorite baby pastime. Remember though, these cereals should be mixed with liquid at first to make them soggy and easier for your baby's mouth. Eventually you may lessen the liquid, but it should be done at a slow and steady pace.
After a few months of this type of food, your baby may be ready to move up a level, taking on finger foods like soft fruits, squishy pasta (not al dente!), and even some cheeses. Make sure to take this step slowly though, as the choking hazard with these larger items increases significantly, and allergies are certainly something to watch for.
At around one year of age, your baby should be ready to eat just about anything as long as it's mashed and has an easy consistency. At this point, liquid foods are definitely still acceptable, but a weaning process should start soon, to ensure an easy transition. Make sure to consult your child's physician before each step, as a medical professional should always offer their expertise before moving on to a new stage in development.
Feeding your infant solid foods is a big step in their growth, but it's a rewarding experience to watch them eat their first real meals, and discover which foods they enjoy and which foods they don't. Always be careful not to rush things as this is a new experience for your baby, but make sure to bring the camera for some excellent "first time" photos!