Introducing Solids to Your Baby
For new parents, the idea of introducing solid foods can be a nervous one.
There are always so many questions involved. Such as, “When should I start introducing solid foods? Is my child ready to start eating solid foods? What are the best foods to start with? How much solid food should I offer?”
The list of questions go on and on.
Introducing new foods can be a lot of fun and it’s a great learning opportunity for you and your baby! Here are a few tips that will help that nervous feeling of introducing solids to your baby take a back seat.
When To Start Introducing Solid Foods
When to introduce solid foods truly depends on when your baby is ready. Research shows that most babies are ready to start eating some solid foods around 6 months old. For some babies, this is the right time, while for others it might be after 6 months. Every baby is unique and every baby develops at their own pace.
Look for these readiness signs of when your baby is ready to be introduced to solid foods:
· Baby shows some interest during mealtime. They may try to grab food from your plate and put it towards their mouth.
· Baby is willing/prepared to chew, even if they have few to no teeth.
· Baby has developed the fine motor skills to self-feed. They are using the pincer grasp (picks up food between thumb and forefinger). This typically happens around 6 months, but sometimes this grasp can take as long as a year.
· Baby can sit up without support.
· Baby has lost the tongue reflex (automatically pushing solids out of mouth with tongue).
Some babies may show some but not all of these signs. It’s important to take into account ALL readiness signs. If your baby seems ready then you are ready to introduce solid foods!
Foods to Start With
Baby’s first foods can include things like fresh fruits, soft cooked vegetables, healthy carbohydrates and/or some healthy fats. The foods that can be introduced should be soft, easy to gum and easy to swallow.
It is important to give your baby a variety of foods. This variety will help their natural instincts kick in and they will choose the foods that meet their nutritional needs. How cool is that?!
Here are some popular foods you can try to start with:
· Soft cooked carrots
· Soft pears
· Soft cooked squash
· Soft cooked sweet potatoes
If your baby is used to breast milk then they will be used to a more sweet taste, so introduce them to something sweeter, such as mashed bananas. Or, try adding a little bit of your breast milk into whatever solid you have served them.
If your baby is used to formula, then they will be used to more bland flavors, so may be partial to more carbohydrates, etc.
Some families decided to avoid common allergenic foods such as, nuts, cows milk, wheat, soy, fish or eggs. They usually begin with the introduction of fruits and vegetables. After the baby has become used to the fruits and vegetables that is when they begin introducing the more common allergenic foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourage families to not avoid the introduction of common allergenic foods. However, research is constantly changing in this area. So, always talk to your pediatrician before introducing new foods to your young one.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
Baby led weaning is an approach used to introduce babies to new foods in a way that encourages the baby to self-feed solid finger foods. This is a way to have your baby more involved with mealtime and lets them decide what they want to eat. Baby Led Weaning is a term for weaning babies onto solid foods, not weaning them off of breast milk or formula.
Here are a few tips to help your baby with baby led weaning:
· Encourage your baby to join the family at mealtime and let them self-fed appropriate finger foods that you have provided.
· Let them choose what, how much and how quickly to eat. They will know when to stop and how much they need.
· Give them the chance to explore new tastes and textures
· Don’t give them a set amount of a specific food. Give them options to decide on their own.
· Continue to nurse just as often since solid foods are meant to compliment milk, not be a replacement for nutrition.
Baby Led Weaning develops good eating habits by encouraging them to learn how to self regulate at an early age. Babies learn to safely handle food with baby led weaning. It lets them practice a lot of hand eye and fine motor practice as well.
Baby Led Weaning can be a fun time for you and your baby.
Watching your baby try new foods on their own is always fun and cute to watch!
What About "Baby Food?"
Some families do not feel as comfortable giving their babies solid foods such as cut up avocados or bananas. If you feel more comfortable introducing pureed foods, then more traditional baby food may be a great option. Traditional baby food from the store is a great starting place for parents. Baby food is easy to pick up and there is always so many options for your baby. It is a perfectly healthy way to introduce new foods!
Some families want to make their own baby food. This is not necessary but can be a fun learning experience for you and your baby. Making baby food can sometimes save money, time and gives families the control of what is in their baby's food. Whatever you do, never be afraid to add a little breastmilk, formula, salt, or some mashed bananas. Get creative!
We hope these few tips help you when you begin introducing solids as a family. It is your family's decision on which techniques you decide to use when feeding your baby solid foods. Just remember, to always talk to your pediatrician before presenting new foods.
Overall, introducing solid foods is such a great learning experience for you and your baby! Meal time is a great way to create a healthy relationship with each other and with food!
Let us know your best stories and tips for introducing solid foods in the comments below.