There are so many questions and concerns when it comes to starting solids and I hope over the next few posts to answer them all and leave you armed with the knowledge to feed your baby with confidence.
There are so many milestones in the first year of your baby’s life, and as a mother, looking back my biggest piece of advice is to slow down and enjoy them. Pushing them to come faster or rushing through the current milestone to reach the next one leaves you missing out on the here and now of what your baby is experiencing. Instead, slow down, live in the moment and be mindful of each and every moment with your baby. You will be grateful for this in the years to come.
As a nutritionist I am often faced with questions about starting solids from parents eager to get started. My first piece of advice is to slow down, follow your baby’s lead and enjoy the process of introducing your baby to the wonderful world of food.
There are a few standard cues your baby gives you to let you know that he is ready to start solids:
- Your baby is interested in the foods you are eating and tries to reach for them
- Your baby can sit alone and holds his head up well
- Your baby opens his mouth when he sees food coming toward his face
- Your baby wants to feed more often or is not satisfied after breast feeding and wants more
- Your baby is beginning to make a chewing motion with his mouth
- Your baby can turn away or push food away with his hands
In my opinion, the last point is extremely important; your baby has an excellent sense of his hunger, he knows when he has had enough and being able to tell you this is imperative so you don’t feed him too much. The key is that you pay attention to this sign and not force him to eat when he has told you he is done. This will only teach him two things; the first that food is not enjoyable and second to eat even when you are full. Your baby’s stomach is tiny and can only handle small amounts of food. Once your baby has told you he is finished, follow his lead. Don’t force food, don’t make airplane sounds or try to distract him, instead put the spoon down and respect that he is finished.
I am often asked at what age to start solids. It is common to hear six months is the age at which to start. Again, I challenge you to follow your baby’s lead. Not all babies are ready at six months. I have had some little clients not start solids until closer to eight, nine and sometimes even 12 months. My little guy didn’t start until seven and half months and even then he didn’t eat that much.
Remember, your breast milk or formula provides your baby’s main source of nourishment until their first birthday. Food at this point is to teach them to eat and to get them accustomed to different tastes; it is not about providing nourishment at this stage. I often tell parents any food eaten at this point is considered “bonus” nutrition.
So, when the time comes, and your baby is ready to dive into the wonderful world of food, sit back, relax, follow his lead and enjoy the process.
Next month I will share with you my thoughts on your baby’s first food.