Everything You Need When Your Baby Starts Solid Foods

Illustration of family feeding baby

Verywell / Hugo Lin

It's an exciting time when your baby starts solid foods. It's fun to discover how your baby will react to their first taste of food and how feeding them will change the family dynamic at mealtime. Some babies are enthusiastic eaters, while others are less eager to try new foods. What's pretty universal is that getting the hang of eating solid food can be messy.

You'll know your baby is ready for solid foods when they can hold up their head, can sit unassisted, and have doubled their birth weight (or are around 13 pounds or more). Showing an interest in food is also key. Most babies are ready to start solid foods between the ages of four and six months. Check with their pediatrician if you're unsure about your baby's readiness.

As you prepare for the milestone, you are likely wondering what supplies you need to make your baby’s first eating experiences smooth and enjoyable. Besides the food itself, you don’t need very much—and certainly nothing high-tech or pricey—to feed your baby. That said, there are a few key items worth investing in.

High Chair or Booster Seat

Your baby is ready for a high chair when they can sit up unassisted. This is usually at around five or six months old. As you consider which high chair to purchase, consider your budget, how much space you have available, and how easy a chair is to use.

You don’t have to splurge on a high-end chair, but it’s good to pick one that is durable (especially if you plan to have multiple children) and that your baby seems comfortable in. It’s a smart idea to test out a few chairs before purchasing. You want to make sure the chair is easy to get your baby in and out of, with simple buckles that won't pinch your baby's skin. Also, consider if it's easy to clean. Features like a detachable tray can be very helpful.

What You Need

Most families don’t need more than one high chair. If space is an issue, you can invest in a clip-on chair (these can hang on the edge of a sturdy kitchen counter or table) or booster seat. Since boosters are portable, some families purchase one to make dining out easier, although many restaurants can provide them.

Easy-to-Clean Bibs

There are many different kinds of bibs. As long as you have enough on hand, you can’t really go wrong here. That said, your baby is going to make a lot of messes, so you want bibs that are super easy to clean. Ease getting it on and off of your baby matters, too.

Bibs made of waterproof material are invaluable, and bibs that have pockets at the bottom to catch spilled foods can be really helpful, too. You want to make sure the bib stays on your baby well, covers the chest area, and is comfortable for your baby to wear. So, look for soft, pliable materials that won't scratch.

What You Need

If you are buying waterproof bibs, you'll likely only need a few because you can quickly clean them between feedings. If you are going with cloth bibs, you’ll want to have several available—at least one or two per meal—because they are likely to get very messy, very quickly, and will need a spin through the washing machine before they can be worn again.

Baby Spoons

Although soft finger foods are a great option for babies who have developed their pincer grasp (the ability to pick up foods between their pointer finger and thumb), most babies start out eating pureed food. Adult size spoons are too large for a baby’s mouth, so invest in some baby spoons for feeding.

Soft, flexible spoons are best because they are easier for the baby to manage, and help prevent gagging. Babies do best with small amounts at first, so even though the spoon might not look like it holds a lot of food, that is perfectly fine. Brightly colored spoons are nice because they can get your baby interested and excited. Some baby spoons change color when food is too hot, a feature that helps prevent accidentally serving your baby food that could burn their mouth.

What You Need

You may want at least two or three baby spoons at first. While you can wash the spoons between or during feedings, you’ll be surprised by how many are dropped on the floor. You can also give your baby a spoon to hold and practice with while you feed them with another spoon.

Bowls and Dishes

If you decide to make your own baby food, it can be helpful to have a few baby-sized serving bowls for your creations. You can certainly use regular-size bowls for this, but since you will not be serving your baby adult-sized portions, it can be easier to have smaller bowls on hand for serving.

Another reason to invest in baby-specific bowls is that you’ll want to use non-breakable bowls. It’s also nice to use bowls that double as storage containers. Your baby’s eating habits will be erratic at first, so you may often need to store uneaten foods.

What You Need

Having at least two bowls available per meal is ideal, particularly as you'll likely be offering your baby a few different foods per feeding. It’s not always easy keeping up with the dishes generated when you are caring for little ones. So, having several dishes on hand can be a lifesaver.

Baby Drinking Cups

When your baby starts solids, they can also start to take little sips of water as they eat. Your baby is learning the art of drinking from a cup, which they will perfect as the months go on.

Drinking from a sippy cup is usually easier for your baby than drinking from an open cup. Plus, sippy cups minimize spills. There are many baby cups on the market. Pick one that is BPA-free and easy to clean. Most baby cups will have handles that help your baby learn to manage the cup on their own.

What You Need

At first, you will only need one or two cups for your baby. Your baby’s cup will likely end up covered in baby food at least once per meal. As your baby gets older, you will probably want a few extra sippy cups for when you are out and about.

Splash Mat

Learning to eat solids is a messy business. There will be crumbs and blobs of food on your baby’s face, hands, and bib. Some will be on the high chair and/or table. But a whole lot will land on the floor. Particularly when your baby is eating purees, you’ve got to bet on having some sticky, hard-to-clean puddles at your feet.

It can help to use a splash mat or splat mat on your floor. These products allow for easy clean-up because you can just pick them up, run them under water, and watch the spilled purees go down the drain. You can also use newspaper or another make-shift solution, but a waterproof mat tends to be more user-friendly.

What You Need

Typically, one mat will work just fine. Most of the time, you’ll be able to rinse your mat clean and have it ready for the next feeding. Occasionally, the mat may require a more involved clean-up, so it can be useful to have a second mat available if desired.

Baby Food Maker

You can choose to buy prepared baby food, make your own, or do a bit of both. While making homemade baby food is not for everyone, it's often fairly easy to prepare, particularly if you stick to simple purees. Many parents like to experiment with different recipes and really enjoy making their baby’s first foods from scratch. The added benefit is that you have more control over the kind and quality of foods your baby consumes.

Baby food makers can be a good purchase if you're making a lot of baby food. There are many different baby food makers on the market, some as simple as a bowl and masher and some electronic devices with multiple attachments and settings. Choose whichever baby food maker fits your budget, lifestyle, and interests. Again, bigger isn’t always better here.

Also, consider whether you even need this extra equipment for the baby food you want to prepare. Simple purees usually just require boiling or steaming and mashing—steps that you can often accomplish with kitchen tools you already own.

What You Need

One baby food maker is likely all you'll need. You might find that your baby quickly moves from purees to finger foods. You might also find that you don’t have as much time as you thought to prepare your baby’s foods from scratch. So, it makes sense to start small and not invest in many devices at once.

Cleaning Supplies

If it’s not clear by now, you should expect quite a bit of mess when you begin feeding your baby solids—and probably for several months (or years) to come.

You’ll want to keep several extra cloths and towels around. Those old burp cloths and muslin blankets that you thought you were done with can be re-used as baby clean-up equipment. Stock up on extra baby wipes, too, for quick and easy clean-ups. Keep sponges and towels around for your table and high chair. An extra bottle of cleaning spray may be helpful, too.

What You Need

You’ll want to have at least two or three extra towels around to be used specifically for addressing after-meal clean-up. The same goes for extra wipes, sponges, paper towels, and spray cleaner. Expect to be purchasing more cleaning supplies for the next few months at least.

A Word From Verywell

Eating for the first time is a learning process for your baby. So, give them time to experiment, and expect messes as they get the hang of consuming solid foods. Don't worry if they don't like everything you serve them. Remember, too, that eating is a sensory experience for your baby. They aren’t just tasting the foods, but experiencing them with all their senses, including their hands.

When it comes to the equipment needed, items to purchase, and your expectations, simple is often the best policy. If you embrace a flexible attitude (and understand that the process can be messy), you are likely to have a more enjoyable experience for both you and your baby. Bon appétit!

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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting solid foods.