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6 Steps to starting solids



I have lots of friends with babies 4 months old that have started solids yet others with babies 5 months old that still are not quite there.  Remember, not all kids start eating at the same time, and not all show identical signs of readiness. How do you know what's right for your baby? Here are answers to your solid food questions.

1: Look for Signs

Some babies are ready at 4 months, others at 6 months. It's okay to start anywhere within this range. Does baby sit up on her own? That's a sign of head control and muscle development. Does she reach for food on your plate or watch you eat?
Is your baby small for her age? That doesn't necessarily mean she should start solids early -- young babies actually get fewer calories from solids.

Yum Yum Kids Tip:

Fill a baby spoon with single-grain baby cereal that's mixed with breastmilk or formula. If baby swallows it, she can begin her solid-food journey.  If she spits the food out, try again in a few weeks.


2: Increase your Chance of Success - Choose The Right Foods

Begin with foods that are not likely to cause allergies and that are most like the milk baby is used to. If your baby is used to the sweet taste of human milk, start with mashed bananas. If baby is used to the more bland flavor of formula, try rice cereal mixed with formula (or with your milk if your breastfed baby prefers rice cereal to bananas). Rice is the most intestinal-friendly grain because it is gluten-free, low in protein, and high in carbohydrates. It has a nutritional profile more like a fruit than a grain. Mix the cereal to a soupy consistency and lessen the amount of milk or formula you add as baby gets better at eating.

Work your way from soupy to lumpy as you also increase how often and how much baby eats. At first, you'll offer food only once a day; but within a few months, you'll be feeding solids whenever you sit down to a meal. Babies differ so much in their preferences and their readiness for solids that it's difficult to make hard and fast rules about the consistency, amount, and type of solid foods to offer. 

Some good ones to start with are: rice cereal, peaches, barley cereal, applesauce, bananas, carrots, pears, squash, avocados, sweet potatoes (kumara).


Yum Yum Kids Tip:

It is advised that baby's first "spoon" be your finger. It is soft, at the right temperature, and by this stage baby is very familiar with its feel. Your finger also knows if food is too hot. Few babies like to begin their feeding life with a silver spoon in their mouth. Metal holds the heat in, so baby has to wait longer for each bite as you cool the hot food by blowing on it. A hungry baby finds this infuriating! A coated demitasse spoon is a good starter utensil. Plastic spoons with smooth, rounded edges are best – and quietest when banged or dropped. Use shatterproof plastic bowls or suction bowls that can survive battering on the high-chair tray and numerous tumbles to the floor.  Be prepared for mess - bibs are good as they lessen the mess to a certain degree!  Be prepared to go through a few.

3: Time of Day?

Offer new foods in the morning. If by some chance your baby is allergic to a particular food, the intestinal upset should wear off by the end of the day. Beginning a new food in the evening runs the risk of painful night waking.

Otherwise, offer solids at the time of the day when your baby seems hungriest, is bored, or you both need a snack and something interesting to do. Mornings are usually the time when babies are hungriest and in the best mood for social interactions, including feeding.


Yum Yum Kids Tip:

Choose a time of the day when you are not in a hurry, since dawdling, dabbling, spewing, spattering, smearing, and dropping are all part of the feeding game. Forget fast-feeding. Remember, meals are both a food-delivery system and a social experience. Take your time, and enjoy this new nutritional stage.

4: Follow Baby's Signals

If your baby eagerly accepts the first finger tipful of food, offer a little more the next time. At these first feedings, baby may actually swallow only a teaspoon or two of food. Gradually increase the amount you give baby until you are offering a quarter-cup or more at a time. Remember, your initial goal is to introduce your baby to the new tastes and textures of solid foods, not to stuff baby full. As with all areas of development, babies take two steps forward and one step back. Expect erratic eating patterns. Baby may take a couple tablespoons one day and only a teaspoon the next. Baby may devour pears and refuse bananas one day, then the next day ignore the pears and gobble down the banana. That's all part of the feeding game. Relax and realize that you can't control your child's every mouthful. Don't force-feed a baby. Know when enough is enough. (Your baby knows.)

Observe stop signs:
  • Baby purses lips, closes mouth, and turns head away from approaching spoon.
  • Baby leans away from the advancing spoon, uninterested or wanting to avoid the food entirely.
  • Leaning toward the food or grabbing the spoon or hand of the feeder indicates a desire for more.

Yum Yum Kids Tip:

Consider solid foods an addition to, not a substitute for, breastmilk or formula, which are more nutritionally balanced than any solid food. Make a note of what these signs are as they will be different for each child.  Try getting other people to feed baby too.  It is important that they learn to take food from more than just yourself.

5: Practice Patience

Baby may like broccoli on the first try, or it may take a second -- or sixth -- attempt for her to accept a food. This fact may be discouraging, but keep on trying.  Quite often babies have to try things several times before they will actually accept it.  So keep persevering! 

Yum Yum Kids Tip:

Unfortunately there is no magic bullet here!  Patience, patience, patience!  If you find yourself getting frustrated give up and try again another time when you feel more calm. By four months of age babies are very astute at reading parents' facial expressions. If you're anxious about getting solid food into your baby, expect baby also to be anxious. Approach the feeding game as just another social interaction that you will both enjoy.You want this to be a good experience for baby otherwise it will be very difficult moving forward.  Don’t force it.  It will happen over time…I promise!

6: Introduce Lots of Variety

Taste buds will adapt to what you feed them. If that ends up being lots of whole grains and veggies, they'll begin asking for those.  Following on from point number 4, the more variety you offer, the more foods baby will grow up to like. Quite often parents give a couple of foods that become favorites and then stop.  Keep up the variety…it will make your life far easier in the long run!

Yum Yum Kids Tip:

Get some good recipe books or ask friends for recipes and ideas that they found have worked well.  Annabel Karmel Books have lots of great ideas or our starting solids starter kit comes with 27 simple recipes.

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