What to Know When Starting Your Baby on Solid Foods

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starting baby on solid foods

Starting solid foods is a big phase in your baby’s life. Not only are they growing up, but they’re beginning a whole new adventure with flavor and texture.

Babies grow and develop at their own pace, so you should never rely on a timeline to tell you when it’s time to transition to that next step. Since all children are different, so you’ll need to observe your child’s body language and feeding queues to determine if s/he is ready for solid foods. Here are a few signs that your baby may be ready for solids:

  1. She carefully watches you eat.
  2. She is able to sit up without support.
  3. She is able to grab for things.
  4. She mimics eating behaviors (opens mouth, fake chews)
  5. She can imply desire (reaching for something) and refusal (pushing it away or turning her head)
  6. She is at least four months old.

Here are some tips for a successful introduction.

1. Don’t force it – In the beginning, your goal is to introduce solid foods, not fill your baby’s tummy. If she eats well, that’s great, but definitely don’t try to force food into her mouth. You’ll create a negative association with feeding that will make future meals difficult.

2. Stick with simple foods – Don’t overwhelm your child by offering a multitude of flavors and textures during the first meals. Stick to simple flavors (like peaches, apples, sweet potato, and squash) and only offer one at a time. Let her practice with her tongue and swallowing before you stimulate her brain with complex and varied flavors.

3. Use a baby spoon – Big spoons for adults are intimidating and can be tough on baby’s mouth. Use a small, silicone baby spoon. It should be brightly colored so baby can see it well.

4. Continue offering breast milk – Just because you’re giving some solid foods does not mean your baby’s nutritional needs are being met. Continue offering your breast at the same intervals as you normally do. Pump with the same frequency so your supply stays high. Nurse after each solid feeding to make sure your baby is full and to relax her after the new experience.

5. Offer solids during happy times of the day – You want to try new things when baby is well rested and in a good mood. For most kids, this is early morning, but your time may vary. Morning also gives you time to monitor your child for allergic reactions before they nap. Make sure you are in a good mood too. Starting solid foods involves spitting, sputtering, messes and play. Enjoy it!

6. Watch for adverse reactions – Allergic reactions are rare, but they happen and are worth keeping an eye out for. Introduce foods with a few days in between so you know exactly what caused any reaction. Typical reactions signs include runny eyes and nose, diarrhea, a raised rash, gassiness, bloating, vomiting and crankiness.

7. Offer multiple times – Just because your baby refused solid foods one time doesn’t mean they will hate them forever. Maybe they just weren’t in the right frame of mind or refused instantly because it was unfamiliar. Try again and again, but without insistence. Offer a spoon, but if she turns away, try again at the next meal. After repeated offerings it won’t be so new anymore.

8. Be excited – Children pick up on our emotions and feelings very early. Show how much you love solid foods by taking your own spoonful. Overact with sounds like “Mmmmmmm” and “Yummy!” Your child will see that the food makes you happy, so she’ll want some too.

What was your baby’s first solid food experience like?

breastfeeding shirt clipWritten by Melissa LaHann, Founder and CEO of Happy Fig, LLC

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