When my mom was a baby I believe she was started on cereal right away. When I was a baby my mom started me on solid foods around 8 weeks of age. When my older children were babies the recommendation was that babies be at least 4 months of age. Now the recommendation is to delay starting baby on solid foods until he or she is 6 months old.
What this proves is that times change and what used to be acceptable isn’t always the best things for children today. We parents are always being given new information about babies and how to care for them. I always try to verify anything I read about caring for my children and recommend that all parents do the same.
That being said, here is some information about starting your baby on solid foods mixed with my personal experience.
In October of last year Janna had her first taste of solid foods when she was 5 1/2 months old. I started her on rice cereal just like I did all of my other babies when they were 4 months old.
After rice cereal she tried sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and applesauce. I chose those foods because they were supposed to be similar to breast milk and fairly easy to digest.
Janna didn’t eat much at a time and I often felt like she could honestly care less about food. There are times even now that she has turned one year old where I don’t think she really cares whether she eats solid foods or not. I chose not to force her to eat or to give her lots of the baby snacks just to get her to eat something.
My baby girl is quite happy with breast milk as her main source of nutrition. Her iron level was 13.5 (very normal level) and she weighed about 22 pounds when she was checked at 11 months of age. Those two things are a result of little nutrition besides breast milk. I think that is confirmation that breast milk is the perfect food.
When Joshua was a baby he really didn’t care about eating solids either. I was made to feel like I wasn’t doing things correctly with him because he didn’t eat much, so I tried to get him to eat anything I could. His favorite foods were crackers, toast, and potatoes even though I offered all sorts of fruits and vegetables.
When Joshua turned 4 I finally connected all of the dots and had him tested for food allergies. Once I took him off of all of the foods that he was allergic to, he started showing improved health and behavior. Now that I look back at things I wish I had delayed solids with him until he was closer to one year old. He was drinking lots of breast milk and was gaining plenty of weight. There was no real reason to push him to eat. I should have trusted my instincts instead of worrying that I was depriving him in some way.
I guess my point is to let your baby be your guide when it comes to solid foods.
There are lots of choices of baby food you can purchase at the grocery store. While I think it is expensive and I can save more money making it myself, I don’t have a problem with people buying jarred baby food. If it is a matter of someone feeding their baby jarred foods or giving him or her sweets and pop (Which I have heard of more times than I care to.), then I would choose jarred baby food every time. However, I do think that the jarred dinners and desserts have too many ingredients.
With the exception of Julia, who had to go to babysitters during this age, I have made my own fruit and vegetable purees. Homemade baby food really is simple to make.
Simply cook the vegetable of your choice in water. When they are tender, place them in a blender or food processor with a little of the cooking water. Puree until smooth. Add more water if necessary.
Freeze the pureed vegetables in ice cube trays and then transfer to a zippered bag. Each cube is equal to about 1 tablespoon. This is a convenient way to have perfectly portioned food for your baby. Plus, you will save a ton of money as opposed to buying baby food in a jar. The sweet potatoes pictured above came straight from our garden.
Here are a few things to consider before starting your baby on solid foods.
- Don’t start solids until baby is at least 4 months old although waiting until 6 months is better and is what is recommended. A baby’s digestive system is too immature before this time. Baby is also not developmentally ready before 4 months. And, contrary to popular belief, starting solids won’t necessarily make your baby sleep through the night.
- Baby should have doubled his or her birth weight before starting solids. Baby should weigh at least 13 pounds if his or her weight has not doubled. While this is generally thought of as a milestone that baby should hit before starting solids, it is not a hard and fast rule. Some babies double their weight earlier than 4 months but that doesn’t mean that starting solids then is a good idea.
- Baby should have good head control and be able to sit up with support.
- Baby has stopped the tongue thrust reflex. Example, if you stick a spoon of food in baby’s mouth the food doesn’t immediately come back out.
- Baby shows an interest in the food on your plate and what others are eating. This isn’t necessarily a clear cut sign on its own that baby is ready for solids, but it usually goes along with the other signs.
- Baby is nursing 8-10 times per day, empties both breasts and still wants more. Or, baby drinks 32-40 ounces of formula per day and still wants more.
- Baby can bring objects to his or her mouth. Can baby bring toys or even a baby spoon to his or her mouth?
Are you more confused after reading that list? I think the number one thing to first consider is a baby’s age. The other signs should go along with a baby who is closer to 6 months old.
When you do introduce solid foods to your baby, wait 4 days between each new food. This will give you a chance to determine whether your baby has a reaction to any particular food.
As a parent of a child with food allergies, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this topic up. There are 8 foods that are considered to be the most common food allergens. These are foods that you should not feed to your baby.
- Wheat (If gluten sensitivities run in your family, I suggest avoiding all gluten containing products.)
- Tree Nuts
Many babies are given wheat/gluten before they are one year old and do fine. Also, yogurt is often recommended for older babies. I would just use caution and watch your baby closely. Things to look for are hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
It is really hard to say everything about starting solids in one blog post, so I am sure I have left something out. What was the first food you fed your baby and how old was he or she?
Previous Baby Basics Topics:
- A Brand New Baby
- Cord Care
- Newborn Skin Conditions
- Tummy Time
- Clothing a Newborn
- When You Suspect a Problem
- Essential Gear
- Knowing Your Baby
- Trimming Nails & Suctioning Noses
- Baby Learning
- Attachment Parenting
- Sleeping Like a Baby
- Traveling with Baby
- Diapering Choices