Introducing Solid Foods

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.

**UPDATE**
Here are some photos of my baby really enjoying solids a month later in her 8th month.

She loves gnawing on corn on the cob.

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?

 

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