Divya Sharma, a post-graduate nurse and momblogger @BumpBubNBeyond shares with us some useful advice on starting solid food. Visit Bump Bub N Beyond if you’re an existing, expecting or new parents to get more information and support related to pregnancy, newborn care, postpartum and raising children.
Starting solid foods is an exciting time for your baby and you! I still remember when we were about to start solids for my first born, Amy, it was such a special time. Health experts and breastfeeding experts suggest that it is best to wait until baby is 6 months old before offering solid foods. World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, before introducing any solids.
Signs of readiness
Most babies are developmentally ready for solids between 6 to 8 months – here are some of the signs that indicate developmental readiness of babies for solids. When your baby:
- Can sit up well with little or no support
- Has good head and neck control
- Opens the mouth and leans forward when food is offered
- Has lost the tongue thrust reflex and does not automatically pushes food out of his or her mouth with the tongue. Try this test: Place a tiny bit of baby-appropriate food thinned with breast milk or formula in your baby’s mouth from the tip of a baby spoon or your finger. If the food comes right back out again with that tiny tongue, and continues to after several tries, the thrust is still present and baby isn’t ready.
- Shows an interest in food – for example, by looking at what’s on your plate
- Looks eager to participate in mealtime and may grab food and take to the mouth
- Is able to coordinate eyes, hand and mouth so that he or she can grasp the food and put in mouth
How to start solids?
One of the first and best steps in raising a good eater is to model healthy enjoyment of food yourself. Babies who see adults eating good food and enjoying it are more likely to be interested in following their example. Here are some tips on starting solid foods:
- Make the timing right. Offer new food when baby is alert and relaxed. This may increase the chance of your baby trying a new food.
- Offer small amounts. Offer small amounts of food. Your baby is learning to eat and enjoy new textures, rather than having a full meal. Gradually increase the amount of food and the frequency of feeding to satisfy your baby’s hunger and interest.
- Give baby 1 new food at a time. Wait 2 days before adding the next new food. This makes it easier to tell if baby is allergic to the food.
- Follow baby’s cues. Wait for baby’s mouth to open when you offer food. Feed as slowly or as quickly as baby wants. Stop feeding when baby shows signs of fullness. Never force baby to eat.
- Start by offering solid foods once a day. Soon baby will be ready to eat more than once a day.
- Let your baby touch and explore new foods. Expect a mess! Messy hands and face help baby get used to new foods. You will need a good bib so that you don’t have to worry about messy clothes and piles of laundry. Tidy Tot bibs give you the protection you need to keep clothes clean underneath, plus they save food falling on the floor! Also don’t forget to put a bib on baby right from the start or you’ll face big-time resistance later.
- Nurse your baby along with offering other foods. Your milk remains the single most important food in your baby’s diet until his first birthday. Additionally, they are more likely to show interest in new foods if they are not ravenously hungry. At this age, other foods are more for experimentation, play and fun. Remember to offer to nurse again after the solid “meal”.
- Try new foods and flavors: Some babies are cautious eaters and need time to trust that a new food is okay to eat. Babies may need to be offered a food many times before deciding to eat it.
- Baby’s appetite will change from day-to-day: Some days babies will eat a lot and other days not as much. From 6-12 months, baby will slowly start to drink less breastmilk/ formula and eat more solid food.
Click here to read about useful ideas for first foods from Divya Sharma, @BumpBubNBeyond.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full#content-block
- The Canadian Pediatrics Society: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/feeding_your_baby_in_the_first_year
- The UK NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/solid-foods-weaning/