3 Tips for Starting Solids
Introducing solids into your baby’s diet can be an exciting move forward in their developmen, but it can also prove to be quite challenging! For babies who have only ever known liquid diets of breastmilk or formula, the new experience of solid food might be a welcomed discovery or a very unpleasant surprise.
There’s only one way to find out whether your baby will love or hate solids—and it’s important to begin introducing solids between age 4 months to 6 months, according to whether you think your baby is ready and your pediatrician’s recommendation. Physically, your child should be able to sit up on his own and have control over his neck muscles before you introduce solids. Note that if you wait much longer than 6 months, your child might be less inspired to learn how to chew and swallow solid foods.
Here are three tips for starting solids that will help you and baby transition to the new world of eating foods besides milk!
1. Introduce one new food at a time
While specific allergies aren’t inherited, one of the most stressful aspects of starting solids for some parents is the risk that their child will have an allergic reaction to a certain food, especially if allergies run in the family. Beyond allergies, another concern is that a certain food simply won’t sit right, causing baby to have uncomfortable reactions like vomiting.
Introducing one new food at a time will make it easy to spot an allergic reaction and know what caused it. While reactions to food tend to occur within a few hours after eating, it’s best to wait two or three days between new foods when first introducing your baby to solids. Keep in mind that the types of food most likely to trigger an allergic reaction in babies who are prone to food allergies are peanut products, fish, milk products and eggs.
2. It doesn’t matter whether you start with vegetables or fruit
Many new parents worry that if they start introducing solids with pureed fruit, their child will develop a sweet tooth. Some parents also worry that if they introduce fruit first, their child won’t like vegetables. While these concerns are understandable, parents needn’t worry about taste habits at such a young age. The important part about introducing solids is introducing your child to new ways of eating, and introducing your child’s system to new types of foods it’ll need to learn to digest. Of course, you must always make sure to eliminate choking hazards by offering food that is pureed or very finely minced (now’s a good time to take a CPR class if you haven’t already!). And never feed honey to a baby under the age of 12 months.
Need ideas for what foods to try first? Beyond fruits and veggies, you can also offer your baby pureed meats and legumes. Meat is a great source of iron and zinc, which are commonly low in breastmilk. Legumes such as lentils, mashed chickpeas and beans are high in protein and iron.
3. Experiment and don’t give up!
If your baby isn’t enjoying the experience of tasting new foods, try experimenting with different textures. For example, if you’ve been sticking to thicker purees, consider trying thinner purees. If your baby doesn’t like puree at all, try soft finger foods like soft fruit or cooked vegetables that they can explore with their own hands. While your baby is still getting the majority of her daily nutrition through milk, allow her to set the pace—even if this means she eats only one or two bites of solids at every meal. Be patient and don’t give up—eventually, your baby will be eating and loving solid food!