Wouldn't it be nice if your sweet baby came with an instruction manual? Us too! It's not exactly a manual but here are a few questions/answers, resources, tips and tricks to help you navigate the waters of feeding your child.
When should I start my baby on solids?
Every baby is different and they will give you signs they are ready to start. Some experts recommend starting solids between 4 - 6 months. By doing this you are exposing your baby to flavors, tastes and textures which will help them develop their tastebuds.
Breast milk or formula is the only food your newborn needs, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months after birth.
But by ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding. It's during this time that babies typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.
In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. For example:
- Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
- Can your baby sit with support?
- Is your baby mouthing his or her hands or toys?
- Is your baby interested in what you're eating?
If you answer yes to these questions and your baby's doctor agrees, you can begin supplementing your baby's liquid diet. - Mayoclinic.com
How do I introduce solids?
Your baby will start eating small amounts of food at first (1 - 2 tablespoons a few times a day). Your baby may reject this new food at first but that's ok, keep trying! If they are older than 6 months just try again the next meal. If they are younger, maybe wait a few days.
Also keep in mind that your baby is used to milk which is super thin so pureed vegetable and fruit will seem think. Feel free to add breastmilk/formula to help thin it out as your baby gets used to the new consistency. You can gradually add less breastmilk/formula as your baby adjusts.
It is best to offer the new solid foods before you give them milk. After they try the food you will still want to feed them milk.
Should I still feed my baby breastmilk/formula after I start them on solids?
YES! Breastmilk/formula will still provide the majority of your baby's calories and nutrition until they are a year old. Both provide important vitamins, iron, and protein in a form that's easy to digest. Solid food can't replace the nutrients that breast milk or formula provides during that first year.
So why am I feeding my baby solid food then?
Great question! Babies develop their tastebuds in the first 2 years of life starting as early as 4 months old (First Bite, Bee Wilson). You are introducing them to flavors and added nutrients that wil shape their preferences for foods as they get older. What they eat now will impact their immune system as well as their health as they get older.
Check out this great resource for more information: thousanddays.org
What are some resources I can read that will help me raise a good eater + give me information on healthy eating + recipes?
First Bite by Bee Wilson
Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck
Little Foodie by Michelle Olivier