WHEN BABY STARTS EATING SOLID FOODBaby
Watching your babe grow and experience their “firsts” is exciting as a parent. First smile, first roll over, first sleep through the night. But when should they first start solids? There are so many opinions on this (as well as every other parenting topic), and parents are often confused on the best time and strategy.
The Canadian Pediatric society recommends at least six months of exclusive breastfeeding. Exclusive means no food, water or juice, just breastmilk. Around the six month mark you will start to see remarkable developmental changes in your baby. They can sit and support their own head and neck and start to take great interest in what others are eating around them. It is a MYTH that feeding your four month old solids will get him sleeping through the night!
Think of solid food as compliments to your breastfed baby’s diet. Here are some tips on how to get started.
There is no set time
Not every baby is ready the day of their six month birthday. Watch for cues and don’t force feeding if they aren’t interested. Take a deep breath and be patient. Some take a little longer to be interested in solids; keep nursing and trust that they will get there. Someday you will laugh at your worry when all they want to do is eat!
Offer solids after breastfeeding. Start with once a day, 30-60 minutes after nursing and with a tablespoon at a time. Increase in quantity and frequency gradually as your little one becomes accustomed to eating.
There’s no particular order
There are many ways to introduce foods to your baby. None wrong, just dependent on your parenting style. Baby led weaning is popular and involves letting your baby feed themselves from the beginning and skipping the purees. You would introduce soft, steamed foods in bite sized pieces and let the baby feed himself. This takes practice and patience and works for a lot of families. Some families just aren’t comfortable starting here and that is okay! Purees are great too, it is just important to keep introducing more and more texture so your baby becomes accustomed to chunks and to chewing.
Make your own
Avoid prepared baby foods. Your baby can start by eating a version of what you’re eating! This will avoid all the extra sodium, sugar and preservatives in prepared baby food. You can blend your food into a puree or ensure what you’re eating is soft enough and chop into small bite size pieces, depending on how you are choosing to introduce solids.
Try more than once
Your baby may not like what you’re offering the first time. It can take multiple attempts for your baby to develop a palate for what you’re giving. Respect that your baby may not want it and do not force it; but do offer again on a different day as babies often eventually will accept the new food into their diet, when they are ready!
Watching your baby experience new foods is an amazing time. Experiment and enjoy meal time with your baby and watch her palate expand. Remember that initially food is complimenting breastmilk and that your baby will get there!