Introducing Solids to Your Baby: When, What & How?
The introduction of solid foods to a baby is an exciting time for you and your baby! It is a time to explore all tastes, textures and flavors of food. It opens up a child to an all-you-can-eat buffet!🤣 I love feeding new foods to a baby because they are inquisitive and food pickiness has not begun.
When to start eating solid foods?
For the first six months of life, a mother should exclusively breastfeed or supplement with formula. Most pediatricians will say a baby can start solid foods between 4 and 6 months. Personally, I started between 6 and 8 months with all of my children.
What are the signs my baby is ready?
It is important to know if your child is ready to start food or not. Every child develops on their own timeline, so look for the following cues before starting solid foods.
1. Baby can hold his/her head up when propped to sit
2. Baby’s tongue thrust reflex has disappeared
a. Able to move tongue in different directions
3. Baby can open his/her mouth wide
4. Baby reaches for table foods or anything that you are eating
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What do I need to purchase before I start feeding?
Before introducing any baby foods, you must purchase these baby feeding gear.
1. Baby Bibs
An effective baby bib is a necessity. Feeding a baby gets super messy, so it is important to get one that is waterproof and stain resistant. This product is what I use because it is durable, easy-to-clean and lightweight for my child.
2. Baby Spoons
Spoons are another necessity! This spoon is my favorite because it soft and gentle for a baby’s gums. It is also comes in a variety of colors and BPA free.
3. Baby Plates
As you can tell, I love Munchkin products. These toddler plates are great because they have divided sections for multiple foods. The plates have suction cups to remain in one place and avoid spills. They are BPA free and dishwasher-safe too!
4. Baby Food Feeder
This food feeder works well when introducing fruits and veggies to your baby because it prevents choking. Another dishwasher-safe product.
What are the best baby foods?
There is not a specific list of foods that are a must, but it is important to include five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. At first, it is best to start with mashed or pureed food. It should have a smooth texture for easier eating to avoid coughing, gagging or spitting up. At six months, I always start with oatmeal cereal because it is healthier than rice cereal, and it is wheat-free so easier for the baby’s stomach. When mixing the oatmeal cereal, I always used breastmilk to make it easier for my child to swallow. After introducing oatmeal, I moved to mashed or pureed baby foods from Gerber, Beechnut, Plum Organics or Happy Baby. I would feed my child oatmeal and pureed baby food for 1-2 months before moving onto actual table foods.
No matter the brand name, I purchased these specific types of baby foods:
· Sweet Potato
· Green Beans
For my fourth child, I took a different approach to feeding. According to an FDA report (dated November 2019), high levels of toxic metals were found in baby foods. The largest manufacturers of baby food sparked much controversy. Due to this report, I decided that I would not feed my fourth child any pureed baby foods. This time, I skipped pureed foods and move from oatmeal cereal to table foods.
How to prepare food for my child to eat?
This approach going from cereal to table foods is baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is allowing the baby to start solids and feed their self. Due to my nervousness, I decided to do this method but with “mommy help.” 😉
When preparing food for your child to eat, the goal is to prevent choking or gagging. A baby consumes food through dissolving it with saliva. Therefore, it is important to have food that does not need chewing. Also - make sure that you are constantly watching your child when they are eating!
Below are my two tips for introducing foods successfully:
1. Cooking: Make sure all poultry, fish or meat is thoroughly cooked so you are able to mash it
2. Cutting: All fruits, vegetables, or proteins must be cut into very small pieces or slices
What about food allergies?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving your baby potentially, allergenic foods (ex. peanuts, eggs, fish, and wheat) because delaying these foods will not prevent allergies. It may actually decrease the risk that your baby will develop a food allergy. If your child has diarrhea, rash, or vomiting, consult your pediatrician.
Enjoy the feeding journey with your baby boy/girl!
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