When it comes to feeding your growing baby, deciding on when to move to solid foods can be a difficult and confusing process!
The consensus suggests that food be introduced from one year of age. Some pediatricians may suggest introducing foods as early as 4- 6 months for babies showing signs of readiness or, in my case, an insatiable appetite.
As first-time moms, we struggle with each milestone and get a lot of advice from parents, friends and even strangers on the street!
We ask ourselves, is my baby ready for solid foods? Am I ready?! Which solid foods should I feed my baby first? What about potential food allergies?
Well, with your EPI-pen on the ready, you’ve entered this next phase with a lot of trepidation and a lot of questions.
While there’s plenty of useful information on the net, your child’s pediatrician should probably be your first stop. Pediatricians see babies every day and can help you make the decision that’s right for your child.
If there’s one thing I learned with both my kids, it’s that each child is different. My kids were always in the 10th percentile in weight and height. My son out- ate my daughter 3 to 1 in the first 2 years. If your child is in the 80th percentile, for example, you may have a bigger belly to feed or a baby that can down a bottle of milk in 5 seconds flat! That might mean introducing foods early.
Once you’ve made the decision to start feeding your child solid food, the questions just keep coming.
What do you start with first? Your traditions and cultural background can affect your choice of first foods. Fear of allergies can as well. Guidelines on what to introduce first have shifted more than once, especially when it comes to foods suspected of causing allergic reactions. Research indicates that late introduction to certain foods may, in fact, increase the risk of food sensitivities. [i]
Feeding your baby can be overwhelming with so much information. One thing most experts agree on is the benefits of feeding your baby wholesome, homemade food.
When my kids were ready for food, I steamed peas, carrots, beets and much more vegetable and froze them in small cubes. I used a food processor to grind everything into mush. As my children became accustomed to the routine of sitting in their high chair 3 times a day and eating food, I gradually introduced mixed vegetables, chicken and peas, beef and sweet potato, pastas (still in mushy format) and loved the faces they made as they tasted something for the first time! I highly recommend having a camera ready for those candid facial expressions!
This is a big milestone for parents and baby and you’ll need a new arsenal of baby products just for this stage.
Here’s a list to get started:
1. A high chair
A high chair- one that ensures your baby is sitting upright.
2. Waterproof bibs
Waterproof bibs that are comfortable, lightweight and easy to clean so they don’t weigh your child down. You’ll need more than one!
3. A food processor
These have gotten pretty sophisticated and make food prep a snap!
4. Freezing trays
Prepare enough for a week at a time and you don’t have to worry about what to make the entire week.
5. Feeding bowls, plates and spoons
Silicone is safe, easy and practical and there are a lot of options on the market. For bowls and plates, small bowls and plates with compartments work best. For spoons, start off with a small spoon with a long handle meant for adults to use.
6. A splat mat
A splat mat to catch all the food that will inevitably and regularly land on the floor.
7. Wet napkins or washcloths, a dust buster or hand-held broom
Cleaning up food from the floor, the high chair and your child’s face, hands and hair will be repeated multiple times a day. No matter how hard you try, food will be everywhere for the next little while- get used to it!
Each stage or milestone in your baby’s development takes some adjustment and getting used to. The best advice I can give is this: Enjoy every minute, take photos, lots of them and don’t sweat the small stuff. Each of these stages fly by and before you know it, these days are long past and you’re on to new milestones.