The transition from milk or formula to solid foods can be tough to navigate. When do you start? What do you start with? Fortunately, we have some of the basics pinned down for you!
Babies are ready for solid food when their birth weight has doubled and they’re able to sit up unaided – usually around 6 months, but some early bloomers might look ready to go as early as 4 months. To be sure your little one is ready for solids, make sure they’re past the tongue thrust reflex, which will make them spit out anything that isn’t liquid, and can make chewing motions.
This is about the same time as most babies begin teething, but if course, you can’t start with solid food the way adults eat it yet. One or two teeth aren’t enough to break it down alone! You’re going to need a blender, if you want to try making baby-ready solids on your own; otherwise, store-bought baby food is ready to go off the shelf.
There are some advantages to letting baby set the time you begin solids. Kids who lead their own weaning try a wider variety of foods, giving them a more varied diet in the long term. They also learn to eat to their own comfort levels instead of whenever someone stops shoving a spoon in their face, which can help prevent childhood weight problems. Baby-led weaning also helps little ones develop their hand-eye coordination and chewing skills. It’s messy, that’s for sure, but what part of starting solids isn’t?
That’s up to you, though if your child’s shown signs of asthma or other allergies, you might want to consult with their doctor before getting into allergy-prone foods like shellfish or nuts. Otherwise, anything you can stick in a blender and puree is fair game. Rice cereal porridge is a traditional first food, but it doesn’t have to be; you can start with fruits, vegetables, or even pureed meat. Don’t introduce several new foods at once; give each a few days to settle in, so that you can catch allergic reactions early and identify the culprit allergen.
No, and in fact, you shouldn’t! Babies take a while to adjust to eating solids; they may not like the foods you try to give them, and besides, milk is their main source of liquid. You’re not replacing milk or formula right away so much as adding other foods to your little one’s diet. If you’ve been breastfeeding, try a solid soon after the meal’s done; if you’ve been using formula, give baby a couple hours before trying a solid meal. And no matter what, don’t force them to eat when they’re not hungry.
Don’t panic. It can take over a dozen tries to get a child to really enjoy solid foods. Persistence will pay off; just keep trying, and maybe introduce a new taste alongside one they’re already familiar with.
All you need is a blender, and a microwave or stove to steam tougher customers before you puree them. You can store pureed food in the freezer – ice cube trays actually make a great storage solution and serving size – and thaw it when you’re ready to serve. One hour a week can net you all the servings you’ll need for the whole week, if you do the work right! If you choose to make your own solid food samples from your own meals at the same time, don’t forget to add seasoning after taking out baby’s portion.
It’s also important to make sure your little one is getting enough iron. Green vegetables and fortified grains can help; so can pureed beef, if you’re up for trying meat early on.
That’s up to when their teeth start to come in in greater numbers. As they develop more of their teeth, they’ll be better able to handle chewy and chunky foods. Just remember to watch for signs of choking and give them small pieces.
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