Which meal first? It doesn’t matter much. It’ll be easier if your child is hungry but not ravenous or overtired. Try offering solids an hour or so after a regular breast- or bottle-feeding. Your baby should be wide awake, in a good mood, and ready for an adventure — and so should you. It helps if your baby is sitting in a sturdy high chair, wearing a bib.
Start with only one meal of solids a day until you’re both used to it. It’s probably best to limit solid meals to no more than two a day until your baby is six months old, because the breast milk or formula is so important in the early months.
Which food first? This doesn’t matter either. Parents often give rice cereal first. You can mix it with either expressed breast milk or formula. Some babies prefer starting with a vegetable; that’s fine, too. Many babies love fruits, but then reject other foods that aren’t as sweet; so it’s probably better waiting until other foods are well accepted. Variety is good, but it’s wise to introduce only one new food at a time.
If food allergies run in your family, it’s probably bet to start with vegetables, and go to cereals a little later. The first cereals should be rice, oats, corn, or barley. Stay away from wheat until your baby is around a year, because wheat causes allergy more often than other cereals. You’ll also want to delay the mixed-grain cereals until you know that your baby can take each of the separate kinds without trouble.
Solids before or after the milk? Most babies who are not used to solids want their milk first when it’s feeding time. They become indignant if offered a spoonful of something mushy instead. So start with the formula or the breast-feeding. A month or two later, when your baby has learned that solid foods can ward off starvation just as well as milk, you can experiment with moving the solids up to the middle or the beginning of the meal. Eventually almost all babies are happy to take all their solid food first and then top it off with the beverage, the way so many adults do.
What kind of spoon? A teaspoon is pretty wide for a small baby’s mouth, and most spoons have a bowl so deep that the baby can’t scoop all the contents out. A spoon made especially for babies is better, or a small demitasse spoon with a shallow bowl. Some parents like to use a flat butter spreader or wooden tongue depressor — the kind that doctors use — which can be bought in bulk at the drugstore. There are spoons with rubber-coated bowls for teething babies who want to bite. For babies who are feeding themselves, wide-bowled, short handled spoons work well.