Starting solids foods with your baby is an exciting time! It's also a time of so many questions for the new mom who is unsure of when and what to start. While I am no doctor, I am just sharing some of the things that worked for us as well as lots of stuff I learned from research and articles. Most of what you'll find below is the norm while there are some things that I recommend doing against the norm. There's several "old" things about feeding babies that needs to go and luckily, many moms are doing things their way and the new way.
Pull out the frozen peas and food processor (or the jar of food) and let's feed a baby!
- Timing of when you start is important. Chances are your mother and grandmother have probably been asking you when you'll start your baby on solids. Back in the day, people sometimes started solids at 4-5 months and some text will even still insist on this. Current research and the AAP guidelines recommend not starting solids until six months or later. Starting solids too soon can (crazy as it sounds) really affect their health later in life. Recent studies show it can be linked to diabetes and obesity.
- Breastfed babies don't need solids the first year. Exclusively breastfed babies actually don't need any solids for the first year of life. Many will look at you like you're crazy, but it is true. As long as mother has a good supply then baby is getting all that they need! The composition of mother's milk changes as babies grow. This is why you can breastfeed well into toddlerhood.
- Cereal and Oatmeal are not always the best choice. Another old thing to do was to start your baby with cereal or oatmeal. While some mothers do need to turn to this for reflux issues, cereal and oatmeal are actually empty calories that don't provide any nutritional benefit other than added iron. I'm not even sure why doctors recommended it - all I can think is because of the fortified iron and the low chance of it being an allergen food. If you choose to do one, oatmeal is the best! Babies guts are not meant to process these items at such a young age and it can sometimes cause stomach issues. Our culture is the only in the world who insists on starting babies with oatmeal and cereal. We start with veggies in our home. However some mothers do still choose to start with this; it us up to the parents to decide what is best.
- There's no link between solids and better sleep. As an (almost) certified breastfeeding counselor I can tell you that science says there is no link! As a mother of two I can tell you that it's a case by case scenario where you think that perhaps the baby slept better because of the solids you started. There's a really good chance that you'll really never know! Perhaps it will help, perhaps it will just cause more poop.
- You don't have to do baby food. Weird, right? Skipping baby food? You can go straight to baby led weaning and try actual solids for your baby (soft items of course). You can also do a combination of BLW and baby food. Please read up and learn about baby led weaning before starting it.
- You can make your own baby food. If you follow my networks you already know I do this! It's the best! It is cheap, easy and so healthy. I love doing it and I love knowing what's in the food and the kitchen it was made in! I promise if I can do it, anyone can!
- Be careful how many new things you do at once. This is for obvious reasons related to allergies of course. I try to do a new item every 2-3 days and that's it. This allows me to know exactly what may cause reactions or belly problems.
- There are food/age guidelines for a reason. While the guidelines are just a general guideline, there are things that you may want to be aware of. Babies should not have dairy products until at least one year or age and shouldn't have strawberries and nuts until two years of age. A baby's intestine actually has small holes in it that will close as the child gets older. Nuts and strawberries are really bad for small intestines because they can actually get stuck in the small holes and create problems. Other allergy items include: eggs, corn, wheat, gluten, cinnamon and sometimes avocado. It is up to you to speak to your doctor about it and decide when to start these items.
- Don't fret on a feeding schedule at first. Try what works for you for a few weeks; even if it is just one meal a day or two meals a day, don't stress that you have to jump to three meals automatically. Try a small pace of creating a feeding schedule that baby likes.
- Breastfeed first. I always try and offer the breast first followed by a meal thirty minutes to an hour later. This ensures a good supply to continue to last you for your breastfeeding journey! Your milk will likely drop to meet baby's demand, as their demand will likely decrease with starting solids. But always offer the breast first!
- Enjoy it. Starting solids is such a fun stage for me! Pull out the camera and camcorder and have fun! P.S. Get a good bib!