Moms everywhere have heard a long line of rules for starting baby on solid foods. While they may be fine rules for the time; times have changed and so has our technology. Doctors are now finding that many of these ‘rules’ need not be so rigid and some may not need to be followed at all. Here are a few ‘guidelines’ to go by when introducing solids to your baby, and flexibility is key here as you will end up with a little one who is far more likely to try a variety rather than having a list of things she won’t eat.
When to start introducing solids:
Your baby will give you clues that she is ready for solid foods, you simply have to look for them. These clues or cues you might say, will begin somewhere around 6 months of age although every baby is different so if you notice them earlier or later it’s totally okay.
- Getting excited when you eat
- Reaching for your food
- Leaning forward while you’re eating
- Intently watching you eat
Foods to start with:
Unless your baby has digestive issues or you’ve been advised by a doctor, you can skip the whole rice cereal phase. Begin by letting her touch and feel the foods you’re going to prepare for her. Start her off with a mashed banana, avocado or even a cooked sweet potato. Thin the mash with formula or breast milk just as you would with rice cereal. Another good first is to mix a cooked egg yolk in with baby cereal, or puree some vegetables. Whole grains like oatmeal are also a great first.
Family meals (even if it’s just the two of you) is important from the start. Make sure that you’re eating some of the same food whether its food you like that baby can have or even baby food that Mommy can have. Eating together creates a bonding time as much at it creates a fun new experience for baby. Remember though when baby loses interest mealtime is over. This does not mean see if you can get baby to eat just a little bit more.
Add spice and flavor now, not later:
Babies are receptive to new experiences and quickly grow into toddlers who generally are wary of new things. Don’t overly spice up baby’s food, just let them try a variety of flavors. This will make for a more adventurous eater and help reduce the chances of your little one being picky or finicky. There’s no reason to keep baby’s food bland unless advised by a doctor or baby’s tummy is sensitive particular foods and seasonings. Starting on solid foods is a trial and error much like most other things are when discovering what your baby likes and dislikes.
Try and try again:
Repetition and persistence is key when trying foods that may be a bit sour or bitter. If she doesn’t like say pureed peas or broccoli today, don’t give up - try again in a day or so. It takes a good six to ten tries to introduce some foods, and a good trick is to introduce some of these foods first. Baby is far more likely to accept some of the more bitter vegetables if you present them first and getting them accustomed to the flavors than if you start off with some of the more sweeter foods like fruits and such.
No need to wait:
Again unless you’ve been advised by your doctor or your baby’s tummy doesn’t seem to tolerate it, there is no reason to wait a few days between introducing new foods. Mixing foods and giving a variety will also make for a more adventurous eater and baby will be more excited when it comes to mealtimes.
Mealtime should be a fun positive experience for both you and baby. Watch for baby’s cues, eat with her and give her a variety. Your baby’s immune system is developing and learning what is normal. Feeding a variety of foods now is a great way to help your little one’s immune system program what is good and what to react to later in life. I do recommend avoiding foods such as:
- raw fish
- undercooked meat
- raw eggs
I also recommend defaulting to a simpler or ‘bland’ diet if your baby has a stomach illness or is on antibiotics. Otherwise, have fun with feeding your baby, you’ll both be thankful for it later.