When should you start baby on solid foods? Or ‘complementary feeding’ as it is also known. This question gets a lot of debate and there is a lot of worry surrounding it. Is it too soon? Is it the right food? Will I bring on allergies?
Social norms and scientific advice about when to feed babies solid food has changed over the past hundred years or so - in the earlier part of the 19th century, most babies were breast or bottle-fed until about a year old, and then they were given soft foods such as warmed cereals. Nowadays, the World Health Organization suggests that you should breastfeed/bottle-feed exclusively until 6 months of age and then begin slowly introducing solids.
Contrary to popular myths, you don’t need to start introducing solids if your baby is bigger or smaller than average. Breast milk or formula will give your baby all the nutrients he or she needs up until they are about a year old. However, knowing the signs for when your baby is ready for solids is key.
Here are some indicators that your baby is getting ready to try solids:
- The can sit up without assistance
- They have a developed swallowing reflex
- They are showing interest in your food
Moving on to finger foods:
They can pinch food between thumb and forefinger and put it in their mouths – Cheerios are the ‘go-to’ food for this first food. It takes dexterity to get that tiny piece of food pinched between the fingers and then into the mouth. You’ll want to video this – it’s quite fun and amazing to watch the process!
How to begin:
- Try one type of food at a time (to make sure baby does not have any allergic reactions). Wait a few days before changing to the next type of food to be sure.
- Start with something very bland in taste such as Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Cereal, mixed with breast milk or formula.
- Remember, baby is used to the temperature of your breast milk or formula, so the cereal will be more readily accepted if it’s the same temperature.
- Mix the cereal to the consistency of being a little thicker than breast milk and then increase thickness over time.
- Expect that first feeding to seem like they spit out more than they swallow – it’s a learning process, but one baby should enjoy. We recommend an easy to clean bib like our Bandana Bibs.
- It can take up to 10 x before baby accepts the new food. If they reject a food the first few times, it doesn’t mean she won’t ever like it. Learning about new tastes takes time.
- It’s important to introduce a variety of tastes and textures. Avoid any sugar and salt - stick to natural fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish and poultry
Talk to your child’s pediatrician before starting solids. Introducing foods should be done with patience - let your feeding times be an opportunity for learning and play!