Is Your Baby Ready for Solid Foods?
You can ask doctors, refer to books or ask friends, but in my humble opinion the only person who knows when your baby is ready to eat is your baby! Some infants will reach for food on your plate at 4 months and others as late as 8 or 9 months. Don’t stress either way, though, no matter when your baby decides it’s time will be the right time.
Start With the Basics
When your baby is ready to eat for the first time, there are many different options. I personally start with homemade rice cereal. I like mixing it with a little breast milk or formula so you know your baby already enjoys the flavor and gets introduced to a new texture. After rice and oatmeal cereal have been mastered move on to an array of fruits and vegetables. Pick organic foods that are in season so you know they’re ripe and at the peak of perfection. You can start with banana, avocado, sweet potato, persimmon, even gently steamed mashed peas or broccoli.
This can be easier said than done in the age of technology. As much as possible try to turn off tv’s and put down cell phones. Your baby is following your lead, so if you’re focused on feeding so will your new eater.
You may be excited about new baby foods and feeding, but your little one may have other ideas. When Kenya and Chloe were learning to eat in the first year I would get disheartened if they didn’t want to eat or pushed away food they loved just yesterday. Babies tummies are very sensitive and just learning how to digest, so it’s important not to force food on them. I remember spending hours trying to figure out why one of the kids wouldn’t eat only to find out they just had to make a poop and didn’t want to take in before allowing a bowel movement out!
Make it Fun
You may dread the clean up and terrible mess your baby makes, but this is the time to let them at it. Babies need to taste, touch, smell and yes, feel their food in the first year of feeding. Give your baby her own spoon when they’re learning to eat, so they can become an active participant opposed to a passive one. Let them see the food, taste it off the spoon and their fingers. Even talk about the food, telling them what they’re eating and take a few bites yourself. These are all tips for allowing your baby to have complete exposure to the foods and get excited about feeding time.
Cindy Morrison is a certified speech language pathologist (CCC-SLP) specializing in pediatric feeding. She has worked with hundreds of families in her private practice to help parents raise happy healthy eaters.
She teaches her proven feeding techniques and strategies in her unique online class, Happy Eating Club.