Introducing solids to your baby can be a really intimidating feat if you’re unsure, and, let’s be honest here, who isn’t unsure of literally everything when it comes to babies?! Whether you’re introducing solids to a breastfed baby, formula fed baby, or anything in between… I’ve compiled a list of tips that I feel are important from a personal and professional standpoint.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest you introduce solids around 6 months of age. My doctor started to suggest it at 4 months of age. The bottom line is… they should be DEVELOPMENTALLY ready. Every child grows and develops differently and you should look out for your child’s signs of readiness to know when. Some of these include being able to sit with support and when the extrusion reflex is starting to go away. You know, the one where they literally just spit out and stick their tongue out when you put anything in their mouth? That one. Remember, your baby is getting EVERYTHING they need from milk. Food is just an extra experience at this age so, if they aren’t quite ready with Sally down the street is feeding her baby solid foods, don’t panic. You aren’t starving your little one.
If you’re trying to decide on what “solid” food to go for first? Look for something sweet like banana or apple or pear. Babies have an innate sense to prefer sweet foods. Breast milk and formula have a bit of sweetness to them. A fruit will be less shocking and potentially more likeable upon first taste to your babe.
Don’t be discouraged if round one didn’t go well for you. Research supports the increase in intake of foods upon repeat exposure. Did you like broccoli the first time someone offered it to you? Probably not. But, after trying it several different ways on different occasions you were more familiar with it and more likely to eat it, or at least this is a likely case. Don’t rule out sweet potatoes on the first go-round if your little one gave you the “WTF mom” face.
Avoiding “baby food” all together? That’s perfectly acceptable. Just go with the rule of “tongue” If you can put a food into your mouth and mash it with your tongue against the roof of your mouth, it should be safe (in small sizes) for babe to eat. My favorite in this category is avocado.
Avoid teasing or tricking your baby into eating. We all know the age-old trick of the “airplane” or the “choo-choo train” as we propel the spoon into the smiling child’s mouth to get them to open up, when in all reality they were opening up because they were laughing at your silly game. If a baby is hungry and wants to eat what you’re offering, they’ll eat, without the tricks and games. If they aren’t hungry and don’t want it, they’ll close their mouth or turn away and you should take that as your answer. Again, they’re getting what they need from milk so they won’t be missing out on crucial calories if they turn down a few bites. Think about it this way, you start laughing at a funny meme I just showed you and I blindside you with a nice floret of broccoli right in the mouth. Unpleasant, unexpected, and probably not well received, lol.
Set the tone by setting up your environment. Place your babe’s seat or highchair at or close to the table. Sit down with them and eat at the same time if you can! This is the beginnings of family meals and they are so dang important. You can talk to your little one, explain what you’re doing, and really it’s a nice time where your attention is on each other and you can bond over eating. Which, in my opinion, is such an intimate experience when you think about it. If nothing else, make sure they are sitting down and sitting still. This is so important for safety.
Safety first. Make sure that they are safely secured into their high chair or seat. Think about the spoon size. It should be easily taken by a baby with a small mouth. Think about the scoop size you’re giving them. If it’s too big, you’re not only going to get messy but you’re also increasing your chances of gagging and choking. Make sure you’re present. If your little one is anything like mine, he’ll lunge at the food because “you just aren’t fast enough, mom” and you want to be nearby to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Have fun and get messy. I debated even including this bullet point but it’s an important one. I have such a hard time with messes but you (and I) need to just let it go. The mess is a part of the learning and a part of the experience.
I’d love to know any tips you’d add to the list! Let us know and pleaaasseeee reach out with any questions or comments because feeding is, BY FAR, my favorite topic to discuss.