After months upon months of an exclusively liquid diet, the addition of solids to your baby’s mealtime is exciting—if not slightly intimidating. But before you clean out the shelves from the baby food aisle at the grocery store, there are a few things to know about introducing solids to your baby.
1. Is your baby really ready? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the rule of thumb is to offer solids no sooner than four months and typically closer to six months of age. This is because the nutrients babies get from breastmilk or formula during the first half year of life should really be given priority. But because every parent learns rather quickly that each baby is unique, it’s important to look for cues from your own child that signal they are ready to diversify their diet. These include the ability to sit upright and unassisted in a high chair, as well as a demonstrated interest in food (like reaching for a bit of what you’re eating).
2. Will you do Baby Led Weaning? While most of today’s parents were raised on a traditional spoon-fed, pureed baby food diet, more people are turning to Baby Led Weaning (BLW) to introduce solids these days. With BLW, babies who are new to solid foods are offered large pieces of semi-soft foods, such as steamed sweet potatoes, avocado or banana to pick up and eat with their own hands. As they get down the concept of chewing, the textures of foods can progress to eventually include the same items served on the rest of the family’s dinner plates.
3. Or go with spoon-feeding? If you instead opt to go with purees to start, there is no shortage of ready-made options available at the grocery store or suggestions for ways to make your own purees at home. Many parents also opt to integrate some concepts of Baby Led Weaning and spoon-feeding so their babies can get the experience of feeding themselves along with the benefits of purees for early eaters.
4. What early foods are good options? No matter your feeding strategy, the same types of foods—sweet potatoes, avocados, pears, etc.—are good options. In general, you want to start simple with just one ingredient or offering at a time. And then progress slowly, giving your baby the chance to acclimate to the new flavor and giving you the chance to tell if they happened to have any adverse reactions.
5. How to use caution with common allergens? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, parents should wait to introduce more allergenic foods, such as peanuts, eggs, dairy and shellfish, until after other foods have been well-tolerated. However, waiting too long to introduce these foods may increase the likelihood of an allergic reaction—so it’s best to talk to your child’s pediatrician about timing the introduction.
With solids, a whole new world of opportunities is opened up to your baby—and you. Make it your goal to have fun with it and your baby will likely follow your lead.
Kids2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.