When all baby needed was boob… As far as breastfeeding goes, I considered myself very lucky. Early on my son, BabyCakes, and I quickly settled into a great nursing rhythm. We didn’t struggle with latch, supply issues, or any other tricky things many nursing moms face. (Don’t worry if you struggle with breastfeeding there is a lot of great help available.) Breastfeeding was convenient, free, and portable. All I needed to feed my boy was me and the girls, those were the days!
Is it time for solids? How do we do this? Fast forward five and a half months and BabyCakes was able to sit well with limited assistance, had lost his tongue-thrust reflex, and started eagerly grabbing for my food at the dinner table. Indeed, he was showing the development cues of being ready for his first solids. That, my friends, put this first time mom into a tizzy! How do you introduce solids? How much should a baby eat at first? What should the food’s consistency be? What about food allergies? What if this makes my milk supply disappear? What if I mess this up and ruin him forever!!!
Seek advice, read, start slow. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “Solid foods need to be introduced to ensure that your baby gets proper nutrition around 6 months of age. Ask your doctor about when to introduce solid foods and how to do it.” (Helpful tip for first time moms, think about your questions on introducing solids before your child’s four month and six month well-child doctor visits.)
I’m grateful we have a pediatrician who we respect and can easily partner with as a caring team for my boy’s best interest. So when my head was spinning over starting solids, I talked to our pediatrician. I had a list of questions, which she patiently answered as I took copious notes. She explained that babies usually start solids gradually, beginning with just one small serving a day. She also reassured me that my breast milk would meet most his nutritional needs and I wasn’t going to ruin my boy. (Sigh of relief) I also talked with my older sister and founder of First Time Mom, Bert, and she suggested some helpful online resources like Wholesome Baby Food. The intimidation of starting solids began to subside and with my husband we formulated a plan.
How we started solids. (First I want to clarify that I am NOT an expert here. Rather, I’m sharing what worked for us because I believe sharing parenting experiences is helpful. It is important for parents to consult their pediatrician and make well-educated decisions about what is best for THEIR children.)
We decided to start BabyCakes with simple brown rice cereal when he was almost six months old. Feeding solid foods would be a great area for my husband to take the lead and have more bonding time with our boy. For BabyCakes’ first taste we choose Happy Family’s Happy Baby Organic Brown Rice Cereal and he loved it! After a couple of weeks of cereal we moved onto homemade fruit and veggie purees. By eight months he started dabbling in finger foods and now at almost a year he’s onto eating what we eat. In the end, the world of solids wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be and I’m thankful for my eager eater.
A Variety of Experiences: We have a great community of First Time Mom readers who are ready to share their parenting experiences; so when writing I like to poll them on the First Time Mom facebook page and see what they did with their little ones. I asked moms to share when their babies began solids, how did they know it was time to start, and what were their first foods. Most of the mom’s who commented started feeding their babies solids around six months. Some, however, started earlier. While a few waited until after eight or nine months. Moms said they knew their babies where ready for solids because their little ones showed an interest in food (some even stole food off of their mamas’ plates), could sit with support, had a pincer grip, and/or their babies were still hungry after having milk or formula. Popular first foods included: avocado, banana, baby cereal, and sweet potato.
Baby Led Weaning: Many of our readers did Baby Led Weaning, which sidesteps spoon-fed foods and starts babies on finger foods at a pace determined by the child. Actually, I had not heard of baby led weaning until after BabyCakes was regularly gobbling up my homemade baby food, but several moms loved this approach. One explained that she had the mindset “food before one is just for fun.”
You can do it! As you can see, moms have a variety of experiences with starting solids. There is a lot of information out there both good and bad. The research on nutrition is constantly changing so it is important to consult a trained professional with questions about your child’s health and development. While starting solids may seem overwhelming at first, it’s not as scary as it may seem. Here are my tips: seek sound advice, remember to also trust your instincts, work with not against your baby, and if at all possible keep on breastfeeding (it’s nature’s safety net for your baby’s nutrition.) Good luck mamas!
How did you start your baby on solids? What baby-feeding resources did you find helpful?
Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc.