A Non-Comprehensive Guide To Starting Solids

Alternatively titled "Random Tips On Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods".

You are a new mom who has been faithfully following your pediatrician's advice to exclusively breastfeed and/or bottle feed your infant.  No cheating and adding rice cereal to the bottles, no sneaking them whipped cream - you are a rule follower.  Then somewhere between 4 and 5 months, your pediatrician hands a you a sheet on starting your baby on solids.  Enter paranoia/panic mode!

Okay, maybe that was just me, but even if you don't panic, starting solids can seem a little scary.  But trust me, it's not.  In fact, it's fairly easy.  Regardless, I'm going to give you my personal, random solid food tips.  Here we go.

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1. Start with rice cereal.  

Obviously.  This was on that sheet your pediatrician gave you, after all.  You mix the rice cereal with a little bit of breastmilk or formula until it reaches a still-pretty-runny consistency.  Rice cereal has no taste, so it's basically the same as giving them milk/formula, just a little thicker.  The whole point is to get them used to textures before you bring in the big guns - real, pureed baby food.

2. Don't go straight for the yummiest food.  

Once your baby is good and used to rice cereal, you get to try real baby food - now the fun begins!  But hold your horses - it might be tempting to go straight to sweet potatoes or bananas and watch your baby gobble it up with glee.  But my personal opinion is that you might as well get them used to the "yucky" foods first.  Think about it, would you want to go from sweet potatoes back to green beans?  Yeah, me neither.  And trust me, your baby will have plenty of fun just adjusting to something that actually has flavor.  So go with the green beans and carrots before you try the peaches and pears.

3.  Don't freak out if there's a change in color (if you know what I mean).  

It's probably not an adverse reaction, it's probably the peas you tried yesterday.  But if you see any blood or other concerning things in a diaper, or if your baby has another kind of reaction, discontinue the most likely culprit and call your doctor!

4.  Don't try more than one new food ingredient at a time.  

See previous tip.  You want to be able to quickly identify the culprit if your baby has a reaction.

5. Just because your baby doesn't open up, it doesn't mean they don't like the new food.  

Gwen likes peas.  But the first time we tried them, when she wanted another bite she pursed her lips and craned her neck toward the spoon, and I had to pry her lips open to get the food between - then she gulped it down.

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(Gwen, after her first meal of sweet peas.)

6.  Learn to perfect the scoop method.  

Give Baby a bite.  Baby will spit most of the bite back out.  Scoop the bite off Baby's face and re-insert.  Repeat until Baby actually swallows.

7.  Get ready for your husband to one-up you.  

I have taken a brief poll (i.e. my friends agreed with me), and dads are generally better at feeding the kiddos solids.  Derek can feed them and keep both of the kids looking like they just had a bath, but when I feed them it looks like they took a bath in whatever I'm feeding them.  And I swear they open up better for Derek too.  Don't take it personally, just use it as a way to convince your husband to take baby-feeding duty every now and then.

8.  Take pictures and video!  

I never took a messy-face photo or new-food video that I regretted.  Baby food is fun!  Adorable and fun.  Have fun with it.

9. Grab an extra spoon.  

Let your baby hold it (see picture below) while you employ the scoop method (see #6).  This will help distract them from grabbing at the spoon you are using to feed them, and the baby food jar, and your hair, and it will encourage their sense of independence.  They're too little to realize that they aren't really feeding themselves just because they get to hold a spoon.

(Wyatt at about the same age as Gwen is now.  Look how little he was!)

And this concludes my non-comprehensive guide to introducing solids.  

Experienced mamas, speak up!  Anything else you think new moms should keep in mind when they take the leap to solid foods?

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LeAnna said...

Dads are SO better at feeding kids, I don't know how they do it. SERIOUSLY.

That being said, after Q we started doing baby led weaning. Sprig started reaching for food on our plates around 7 months of age (didn't offer anything before that) and we totally skipped the pureed process, she went straight to soft finger foods. It was so life changing and EASY that I'll never do it any other way. There are several schools of thought, one being that if a baby is having a hard time swallowing food (i.e. spitting it back out) then their probably not really ready for it. Every child is different, so that age is different. There's not really anything magical about 6 months of age. Some babies are ready earlier, some later. I personally know several kids who have been well past 1 year before they were ready for solid food. Their Mama's received a lot of criticism for it, but they just did what their kids needed and it all worked out in the end. I often wonder if food allergies are tied to early solids in children that aren't ready, but I don't have a lot of science to back that up. :)

That being said, for baby B, once he starts really showing interest in what we're eating we'll offer him some safe soft finger foods and let him explore from there. At that age solids really are just for fun anyway, they still get their main nourishment from nursing or formula!

Alli said...

Thank you for this post! We're trying solids now. Paranoia and panic mode definitely set in with me. I'll definitely try the "holding spoon" method!

Melanie said...

Love your post!! I recommend making your own babyfood!!! Its not as time consuming as you would think..you get to be creative (roasted pears and blueberries? yes please!)..and it saves major $$$! I made most of Makaylas food but did use store bought for when we'd be out for the day!

Andrea @ The Dawley Fam said...

I am starting Adeline on solids right now, and I just dread it! Haha, with Gracie looked forward to this kind of thing, but I was really hoping I could just be lazy and only nurse her until 9+ months before messing with solids. Unfortunately, when Adeline started waking up 2+ times a night... I broke out my baby food recipe book!

Stephanie said...

I'm lucky and haven't had to deal with tip #6 - for whatever reason my little guy doesn't get that he can actually spit the food out, haha. If he really doesn't like something though he will gag until it comes out, but that's rare...okay, probably tmi!

I've heard that purees are quite a modern thing (money for the baby food companies!) and they are really not necessary for that long...most babies can handle soft cooked foods chopped up very small or lightly mashed from early on. It took a few tries but my 7 month old now loves taking bites of toast crust or eating chickpeas off his highchair tray. Just have to watch closely for choking!

Dove of Snow said...

Thanks for this post! I will refer back to when I start our baby on solids, and that is not too far off as I'm much too aware! LOL It will be fun though, too. I have already referenced your posts about cloth diapering! So helpful! thanks!

Rhe Christine said...

i love the yuckiest food tidbit! I totally forgot that in my post. but its so true. I mean wouldn't you pick bananas over greenbeans!! LOL

love love love as always!

Elizabeth said...

I agree with a lot of these! But I have never really understood the rice cereal part. We skipped that.

In terms of “getting” the baby to try new foods, I had heard lots of tips, but something in me made me not want to manipulate my baby if he wasn’t really ready for solids. Although we tried offering him solids a few times a day, he really wasn’t into it until 11-12 months.

Here are some of my tips for THIS particular baby, though if we have another one it may be different!

-in the conflict of your instinct vs. all the advice, your instinct is probably right! Even if your husband or someone else has a different method, you should stick with the method YOU feel comfortable with and they can try something else on their watch.

-homemade food is great for at home, but the pouches with puree are a nice compromise for when you’re out and about. Same natural ingredients, but practically no mess.

-for some of the “yucky” pureed foods: spread a thin layer on a dry bread crust and he will be willing to try it in order to get some of his beloved bread!

-similar to the closed mouth thing: I don’t force the baby to eat, but a lot of times if he gets it in his mouth and tries it, he realizes he likes it and will start opening his mouth for more. So I have to be creative about the first bite.

-if I put some food on baby’s tray and pretend not to look, he will feel that I’m relaxed, and be willing to try it. He may even try the foods that he initially pushed to the side.

-under age one is just for fun!

-again, my little guy started solids fairly late. He wasn’t begging for food, wasn’t crazy about puree, couldn’t sit unassisted, and couldn’t really pick up soft foods (which made baby led weaning impossible). But eventually he turned the corner and clearly became more interested.

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