So, you are considering giving solid foods to your baby. Are you not sure if he or she is ready yet? Are you not certain just what and how to feed him? Here are some top tips for introducing solid foods to your baby.
Baby’s First Foods: Top Tips for Introducing Solid Foods
Knowing When It’s Time
While there are signs and behaviors that indicate baby’s readiness for solid foods, if you find out that the transition isn’t going smoothly, experts generally agree that backing off and returning to breastfeeding or formula for a time is not a problem. In fact, looking at the first stages of solid food feeding as a no-pressure introduction may help everyone.
Here are some signs that will help you know when it’s time to start on solids.
- He’s at least 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics says 6 months is the minimum age to start solids, even if baby shows an interest earlier.
- He can hold his head steady.
- He doesn’t push food out of his mouth with his tongue (the “extrusion reflex”).
- His birth weight has doubled.
- He seems to be eating more often, and has an increased appetite.
- He shows great interest in other people eating, and wants to take food from plates (or hands, or forks!).
What Do You Start With?
Traditionally, parents start their babies off with a single-grain cereal, such as rice cereal. But current consensus is that really any baby-friendly food is fine to start with, as long as it is mashed and easy to swallow (and not sugary, spicy, or salty). Some ideas include:
- Steamed winter squash or sweet potatoes
- Soft fruits mashed, such as peeled plums, pears, peaches, etc.
- Applesauce (no sugar or cinnamon)
- Mashed bananas
- Mashed avocado
Experts warn that common allergens should be avoided during this sensitive introductory stage, particularly wheat, egg, dairy, and peanut butter. Once it’s confirmed that baby doesn’t have any sensitivities to dairy (some pediatricians say to wait until baby is a good year old), then plain yogurt is a healthful introductory dairy food.
Jarred or Homemade?
There are pros and cons to jarred foods versus homemade. Here are some to consider:
- Homemade food may be healthier; you know what goes into it, and you can choose a variety of foods.
- Jarred food offers convenience.
- Homemade food may result in less pickiness as baby grows because of varying flavors and textures.
- Jarred food tends to cost a lot more.
- Homemade food can be challenging to prepare ahead and transport.
- Homemade food is more eco-friendly.
- Jarred food may be lower in nutrients due to high heat during processing.
Whether you choose to feed jarred or homemade baby food, it’s important that your baby gets lots of positive interaction during meals and healthful varieties of foods. And a combination of jarred and homemade is a nice compromise (you can reuse the jars to store your own homemade baby food!).
For more parenting insights, consider the following affiliate links: