Oh man. My baby is growing up. I think it is the right time for my baby to eat solid foods. Say it isn’t so! Oh and by solids I mean more than just the scraps of whatever she’s yelling for from the floor while we’re eating meals because she’s been getting those for a while now. It is time for a seat at the table.
Why is introducing solids a big step? First off, her lovely breast milk poop is going to forever change into man-sized, smelly brown poops. (You can tell this isn’t my first rodeo, right? No second time mom looks forward to real poop.) And then she’s going to want more than just my milk to quench her hunger. I’m going to have to quit being so lucky / lazy to have an exclusively breastfed baby, and start packing her meals when we’re out and about. Nooooo!!! Ok, maybe it will be a long while until then but still. I can’t believe my baby is growing up.
How do I know it is the right time? Because she’s past the magical age to start solids, which is now 6 months, instead of 4 per the AAP? No. She is a week shy of 8 months old. Because she’s been showing interest in putting anything and everything in her mouth for a few months now and can actually swallow? No. Because she can sit in a highchair without slumping over? No. That’s not it either.
Because now, the food that has previously been coming right back up half an hour later after she slobbers on and ingests some of it, is starting to settle in her stomach OK! Her gut microflora is ready!
I was patiently waiting for this very important flora to be ready, for her digestive system to mature properly, before I sat her down for some real grub. And now that it is ready, and not before, I would like her to join us at the table for meals and enjoy sitting with her sister and sharing food.
We did just that this morning after set up her highchair. She had a blast!
Here is my happy baby, exploring solid foods all by herself. And with the help of her big sister. She shreds and drools on whatever it is until it turns into bits of nothing. And then she picks up those bits and eats ‘em. Yay for reaching the pincer grasp milestone!
With my first child, we just went with what I thought was the normal way to introduce solids. We bought a Beaba Babycook to make our own steamed mush, a couple of baby recipe books, and also bought pureed food from the store and spoon fed her. But baby number one hated anything other than those darn addictive squeezy packets, bread, cheese, and pasta, and of course, breast milk. Buying a fancy baby food maker was a waste because I didn’t like to use it and my picky baby didn’t care for the food it made anyway. I was gifted two other baby food makers too and those just sat around collecting dust. Looking back at all the gadgets and books I bought for my first child just makes me laugh. I guess it was a rite of passage.
So with baby number two, we skipped the baby food books, gadgets, and purees. We are hoping to diversify her palette and increase her joy with food by letting her lead the way. The benefits of trusting my child’s ability to eat by real food by herself, as well as nursing when she asks, is helping her self-regulate. This will in turn will aid her in making healthy food choices in the future and lowering her risks of obesity. And for anyone curious about the solid food to milk ratio, I am confident that the nutrients my milk provides are more than enough for a thriving crawler so I am less worried about getting more and more food into her like I was with the first one.
How and when did you start feeding your baby solid foods? Are you fan of baby-led feeding or do you just love spoon feeding your baby some pureed goodness? 4 months? 6 months? 9 months? Later? Tell me about it!
Here are a few good reads about when to start solids, delayed solids, & baby-led weaning articles, if you’re interested.
- Is my baby ready for solid foods? – Kelly Mom
- Why Delay Solids? - Kelly Mom
- Baby-led Weaning: A Real Food Approach to Feeding Your Baby - Nourished Kitchen
- What is baby-led weaning? - Babycenter
- That Whole Baby Led Solids Thing…IT WORKS! - Conscience Parenting
- Nutrition for Breastfeeding Toddlers – Kelly Mom
- Good Foods for Babies - Breastfeeding USA
Here are some photos of my baby really enjoying solids a month later in her 8th month.
She is now nearly 14 months old and is an enthusiastic eater. I couldn’t ask for a happier baby when it comes to food. She squawks and signs at me and runs over to her high chair when she wants to have a meal. When she sits in her chair next to her big sister, she uses a fork or spoon like a champ or just her fingers and has yet to truly choke on anything she’s ever put in her mouth. I attribute that to letting her explore food and non-food items in her hands and mouth whenever she wanted. She always seemed to know which ones were food and which ones were just for fun. Dirt, wood chips, ants? Just for fun. Whole mini carrots, grapes, strawberries? Munch, munch, munch!
Up until a year, she ate just about everything from leafy green veggies to crunchy or squishy raw veggies to sweet or tart fruits, to nuts, meat and grains. After her birthday, she started not liking to mix her textures and stopped enjoying salad. She is also still mainly a breast milk baby and has always enjoyed her milk straight from the tap. There was never a need or desire to gave her a sippy cup or bottle or anything like that. Then one day, she just decided she wanted to drink out of a glass. She yelled and yelled until I figured it out and gave her a glass with a tiny bit of water in it. Of course she immediately spilled it all over herself but she sure was happy. We follow her lead and just let her explore at her own pace. We still give her a sample of everything we eat, nothing mashed up in advance for her, and she eats what she wants.
Remember: Food before one is just for fun!
Great posters to keep in mind when introducing solids:
The BLW Baby by The Alpha Parent
And another great one, “Why skip the rice cereal?” By We Make Milk
Just a note about when to start solids:
According the the World Health Organization, “Infants should be exclusively breastfed – i.e. receive only breast milk – for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. “Exclusive breastfeeding” is defined as giving no other food or drink – not even water – except breast milk. Breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants.” The American Academy of Pediatricians and all other US health organizations agree. If you are not able to exclusively breastfeed, solids should still wait until after 6 months.
What was your baby’s first food? Did you do purees or table food? Did your doctor recommend rice cereal?
My third baby, Quint, is a few months into his baby-led weaning journey of exploring solid food. He’s 11-months-old and has been picking up and feeding himself little bits of food for the last few months. Here he is eating a piece of cooked, chopped carrot from some of my soup.
I keep things easy for myself. Most of the time he’s shirtless for meals (and all day if we’re home, really, because I don’t like washing extra clothes if we’re just hanging out) so a quick sink wash takes care of the mess. I don’t do bibs because then everyone wants to wear one and I’m not washing three bibs a meal! I don’t make him special food because it’s not necessary and I don’t have time for that. He eats what we all eat.
He’s still an enthusiastic breastfeeder at night and for naps but during the day, most of the time, he’s all about tasting what everyone else is having. So, pieces from our soup, raw veggies and fruit chunks, whatever. He crawls up to his big sisters if they’re eating and pats on their leg and squeals with urgency until they plop a little food into his mouth or open their hand and let him carefully pick it up and eat it himself. His big sisters, 5 and 3, love feeding him bits of what they’re eating. He also scours the kitchen floor for dropped food as well. I’m proud of his self-sufficiency. I do feed him from my spoon when I’m in the mood, though, but we don’t ever just sit down, him and me, and I feed him with a spoon. I just don’t have time for that! (I mean, I suppose I could make time but I prefer to offer food to everyone at the same time and have everyone feed themselves. Or they gather whatever healthy food they’re in the mood for all day. I don’t limit snacks.)
His favorite foods are apple cores or whole apples – he can bite tiny chunks out with his four front teeth, raw cucumbers, celery, and carrots. He really seems to like pre-chewed nuts, a kind of mixed nut/seed/dried fruit paste, that I put in his mouth as well. He’s not a but fan of lettuce or cooked sweet potato or mashed squash because he doesn’t like the feel on his tongue, I believe, but other than that, he chomps down everything and squawks for more. I try to limit his bread intake, offering whole foods instead, but like all babies I’ve ever known, he enjoys pizza and bread crusts, and oatmeal. I feel like finally with my three kids all eating all the time, our grocery bill is starting to reflect that. Thank goodness for cheap organics at Trader Joe’s!
I won’t get too much into poop but the second he had solid food, his sweet smelling breast milk poo was replaced by foul chunky solid food poo. He actually just had his first solid poop a few days ago. I think it was all the beans. Yay! (Just kidding. How long do I have to wait until he can he wipe his own tush??)
Did your food introduction change with each child? Or have you always had it down just how your crew likes it?
- Poster: What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding Past Infancy? - Paa.la
- Is baby’s risk for type I diabetes increased if solids are introduced before 3 months or after 6 months? – Kelly Mom
- First Foods: Why White Rice Cereal Is Bad for Your Baby – Parenting Squad