Is It Time to Start on Solids?
Over the past couple of months you’ve seen your baby change so much. And now you’re starting to think about solids and you’re wondering if your baby is ready. You may be getting advice from friends and family encouraging you to start giving your baby “real” food but… you’re not sure. I’m going to share some specific indicators to help you decide if your baby is ready and then I’ll show you how to go from milk to solids.
Once your baby is 6 months old it’s time to start introducing solid food. Well, it’s not really solid but it is a change from milk. Remember that for the first year, even though your baby may be eating solids, most of the important nutrients will come from either breast milk or formula. The rule of thumb is not to begin solids before your baby is 6 months old. Maybe if your baby is very developed it would be ok to start introducing solids at 5 months but both the American Pediatric Association and the World Health Organization suggest not starting babies on solids before 6 months. There is a very good reason for this. Your baby’s digestive system isn't quite developed before 6 months. Starting your baby earlier can sometimes lead to allergies. And really, why push it? Babies grow up so fast. Waiting a couple of weeks really isn’t a big deal.
Starting on solids is like an adventure. It’s new and exciting and will hopefully be the beginning of your baby’s wonderful relationship with food. When we introduce foods to our babies we are really introducing them to our way of eating. They start becoming integrated into our family life in a whole different way. After-all, food not only nourishes us, it’s also a social activity. Introduce your baby to the foods that you are eating. My suggestion is that you make your own purees. It’s easy, however you don’t want to become a short order cook by making separate meals for your baby and the rest of your family. You can take a little of what you are having and puree it for your baby. If you’re making carrots or sweet potatoes or some other veggie for dinner put a little aside to puree for baby. Baby food should not have salt or sugar so separate out what you will puree for your baby before adding salt to the rest.
The best way to begin is with purees. Baby-Led-Weaning is also an option but before 5 to 6 months it’s advisable to start with purees. You can transition to letting your baby feed herself once she is able to sit upright without assistance. She also needs to be able to chew (or gum) her food well. And it helps if she can pick up her food. Until 9 months most babies have a palmer grip, which means they pick their food up with their whole hands and not their fingers. This means that the food is goes somewhere in the direction of their face but it usually doesn’t make it into their mouth. After 9 months, most babies will have developed a pincher grip which let’s them pick up their food with their fingers. This makes it easier to direct it to their mouths. You can see why I consider the transition from milk to solids an adventure. Initially not that much food is really going to be eaten. Even if you are feeding your baby purees you’ll find that more food is going on the floor or on the tray than is going into the belly. It takes patience and a sense of humor. This is one time when playing with food is considered a good thing. During the first year your baby will get most of his or her nutrients from breast milk or formula since much of the solid food is not actually eaten.
If you’re wondering how to make purees for your baby, you have some choices. There are some all-in-one blenders and steamer especially made to do this. I like the Beeba Cook but others work just as well. This small appliance will steam the food and then puree it. It’s really convenient, especially if you are only making small batches. Remember you can always freeze your home-made baby food. Your other option is to use your steamer basket and them and puree the food in a food processor or blender or use an immersion blender. Your choice. Do what feels natural to you. If you are a mom that doesn’t feel comfortable in the kitchen then by all means use an all-in-one baby cook.
Transitioning to solids is another milestone. It’s so exciting. Enjoy the adventure.
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