As a mom, I think there is nothing cuter or more fun than when a baby starts to eat solid foods. It’s a milestone most parents will remember forever, seeing that little toothless mouth opening in excitement, then making a face as the baby tries to figure if he/she likes this or not.
With both of my older kids, I planned to breast-feed exclusively for 6 months and only then start introducing solid foods. Unfortunately, in both cases, my kids started eating from a spoon much earlier. My daughter had very bad acid reflux, and the one thing that helped was feeding her rice cereal. After that, she was super excited about food and there was no stopping her. I guess I figured that she was super happy with each meal, so it was her cue that she was ready for “real” food. My son at five months was just one hungry little guy, so I found myself nursing more often. Because he seemed hungry non-stop, I decided to give him a sample to see how he liked it. Well, it was love at first taste, so here we went again, eating solids like a pro. Again, I took my baby’s cue that he was ready for it.
So, when is the right time to introduce solids to your baby? The answer depends on whom you ask. Many health professionals still advise parents to introduce baby’s first food between the ages of 4 and 6 months. However, the World Health Organization recommends that baby be no younger than six months before trying solids.
It surely can be confusing and overwhelming with all the different information and recommendations, so I say use your own judgment and look for the signs that your baby might be ready. In general, the rules are that a baby is ready when he/she:
- can hold his head up;
- opens his/her mouth when offered the food;
- can move food from spoon into his/her throat;
- is big enough (when the baby has doubled its birth weight).
If your baby turns his/hers head away from food, then it just might not be time yet, so try again later, instead. For the first couple of feedings of solid food, it’s recommended that you offer only a spoonful, a taste. Your baby might not have any idea what to do or what to make out of this and make funny faces. Allow meal time to be fun and a positive experience. Be patient. Mix in breast milk with each food to help baby digest and to prevent allergies.
Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually give him other foods. Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 3-4 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and consult your pediatrician. Many choose to skip the boxed cereal and go straight to puree, which I did with my son. Good options could be pureed carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and avocado. I began with carrot puree, then avocado puree, and both my kids loved them.
Remember, you are taking the first steps to helping your little one develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
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