When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Foods?
When Should I Feed My Baby Solid Food?
When to Feed a Baby Solid Foods and What to Feed Them
Just like all things for babies, feeding a baby solid foods can be a fun yet challenging task. I know with both of my children, it took preparation, patience, and practice before it all went smoothly.
From the ages four to six months, many doctors recommend beginning to feed babies solid foods (by solid foods I mean pureed fruits, veggies and meats along with cereals). Usually at four months, the first solid food is rice cereal, followed by light colored fruits and vegetables. Around five months, babies can try foods like darker fruits and vegetables and other types of cereal. At six or so months, babies can try meats.
Many women, especially those who breastfeed, find that their babies are ready for table foods between 7-9 months since breast milk is quite nourishing.
Other moms skip the pureed foods altogether and try tiny cut up pieces of food a bit later, around 10 months when the baby has some teeth.
All is relative, based your preferences and advice from your doctor. Today, many people don't give their babies rice cereal as some say it can cause allergies and that it isn't nutritionally necessary. Do what is recommended by your doctor and of course what you think is best for your baby.
Baby Feeding Supplies
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- What's in Beech Nut Baby Food? What's in Your Baby Food?
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Getting Ready to Feed Baby Solid Foods
Being prepared is an essential step in this process of feeding your baby solids for the first time. You want to have everything you need for feeding the baby since babies tend to be a bit impatient in this process, especially when the food is not coming quick enough. Don’t forget; babies are used to the steady flow of breast milk or formula, and if the solids aren’t given in a steady flow, babies can become pretty upset. Once they’re upset, it can be even more difficult to try to spoon in the food. Imagine trying to put the lava back into a spewing, violent volcano—you get the picture…
It would also be important to note here not to wait until babies are super hungry to try to give them solids for the first time. I would recommend trying to feed the baby a half hour or so before the time of a regular breastfeeding or formula feeding. Again, think of the volcano metaphor—angry spewing…Okay, perhaps not angry, but the baby could be pretty upset if he/she is too hungry.
You’ll need a few things before you begin. It’s best to have these items ready before baby is ready in his/her seat. If your baby is anything like mine, once they learn to recognize the items associated with their feedings, they become excited and want to eat that second.
Here are some things to have ready:
1. The food (homemade or store bought)—Most people recommend only using the amount of food the baby will eat in a small bowl and keeping the rest of the food in the original jar or container. In the first few feedings, the baby will most likely only eat just a little food. If you feed the baby from the jar, the enzymes transferred from the baby’s saliva will begin to break down the remaining food, making it a watery consistency.
2. Eating utensil—For first feedings, many experts suggest using your clean finger to dip in the food and place in baby’s mouth. It is easy for the baby since he/she will still be using his/her sucking reflex and tongue thrust reflex, which are present still since the baby is used to breast or bottle feeding. Small baby spoons are the next best option. I personally like the Gerber baby spoons which have a flat, rubber eating surface, which is nice once the baby starts teething. After the baby is used to eating from that kind of spoon, you can switch to a spoon with more of a scoop to allow for a bit more food.
3. Baby Bib—The baby is going to make a mess; there is no doubt about that. Until they learn to properly keep the food in their mouths, food will dribble out. A baby bib of any kind will stop the mess from spilling onto the baby’s clothes, or at least prevent most of the mess.
4. Burp cloth/wipe/roll of paper towels—So, you think the bib will catch it all? On the contrary, the bib only catches what food goes downward. For all other messes that go on the baby’s forehead, nose, hair, chair, etc, a burp cloth (a.k.a. diaper cloth), wipes or moist paper towels will suffice for cleaning. It gets worse as the baby matures and learns that raspberries go well with almost anything—and I don’t mean the fruit raspberries….
5. Protective eye gear, rubber gloves up to the elbows, bullet-proof vest, raincoat—Okay, I am writing in jest here, but you need to think about keeping yourself clean when feeding the baby solid food. I suggest wearing a shirt you wouldn’t mind getting dirty and tossing in the laundry—you really wouldn’t want to feed the baby in your Sunday best. Remember the raspberries from #4? Yeah, imagine flying specks of pureed bananas, apples, squash, peas , etc. coming at you like they were expelled from a machine gun...kind of like paint ball, but edible.
How to Make Baby Food--Squash
Patience When Feeding Babies Solid Food
The very first time you feed the baby may be the most frustrating. You really need to have patience. The baby, as I mentioned above, may still have the tongue thrust reflex and will most likely push the food right out of his/her mouth as soon as it is put in. Keep trying. With both of my children, I would put a tiny spoonful of food along the top of their mouths. It would kind of make them push the food towards the back of their mouths.
Babies will also make many faces as they are given new foods. It does not mean they don’t like it; they may simply be reacting to a new flavor or texture. It will most likely take a few feedings with the same food for the baby to eat it sans a silly face or grimace.
You also should expect the feedings to be messy sometimes. In the beginning, babies push food out and it dribbles all over. Then they learn how to spit it out raspberry style. When they learn coordination of their hands, they’ll reach in their mouths, pull out food and drool and then touch their faces or hair.
Be patient. It’s a learning process. The baby will get it eventually. So will you.
Tip: Use a Squeeze Pouch
Some babies don't quite get the spoon thing for a while. If baby is interested in food by doesn't seem to do well with spoons, try a reusable squeeze pouch. My favorites are the Squeasy Snackers. They are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and can be used by kids for a long time.
Squeasy Snackers Reusable Food Pouches
Practice Makes Perfect!
As with all things, practice makes perfect. In the beginning, the baby will only eat solids once a day, but as time goes on the feedings will increase. Don’t give up the first time the baby becomes upset, makes a mess, or you become frustrated. Make sure once you start to fit in a feeding every day to provide your baby with time to practice with this new experience and the new world of textures and tastes. In no time you’ll both be pros—you’ll be a feeding pro and your baby will be an eating pro.
And just think: this phase is nothing compared to the toddler refusal-to-eat phase or throwing-every-piece-of-food phase...That's up next. Lucky you!