I’ve been procastinating on writing this post because there are so many rules and I’m not really sure how I feel about any of them! I’ll share the “rules” that I learned for starting solid foods and then share what we’ve done. Please note that food is not a replacement for nutrition or breastmilk/formula until after your baby is over 1 year old.
1) Start baby no earlier than 4 months, but many pediatricians (including mine) say to wait until 6 months. There is some research that says allergy development and starting solid foods too early are tied. Another reason to wait is that baby should be able to sit up mostly by themselves and must have good head control. Losing the “extrusion reflex” is also key, which usually happens soon after 4 or 5 months. This allows them to keep solid food in their mouth and then swallow it vs. using his tongue to push food out of his mouth. Some people say your baby is ready when they show interest in food, but to be honest they’ll show interest in anything you’re doing once they can start to reach for things. I think it was great that Archer watched us eat for a few months, when we started him he was so ready and already knew how to bit and chew and drink from a glass just from watching us!
2) Start with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula and make the consistency pretty liquid — once your baby is used to eating you can increase the consistency. Rice is the least allergic food and mixing it with breastmilk or formula will help your baby’s interest and transition. I didn’t like the idea of giving my baby processed rice as his first food, so his first food was actually mashed avocado. We do however give him Oatmeal cereal every morning for breakfast. We use Happy Bellies Organic baby cereal. Other good starter foods: banana, apples and pears.
3) Start with one food at a time and only introduce a new food every 3 days. The reason this rule is in the list is to help you gauge if your baby has an allergic reaction to any foods. We didn’t follow this rule either. Reason being is we’re not allergic people and we thought if he gets an allergic reaction we’ll start over again with one food at a time. Archer did have a reaction to carrots, but it was pretty easy to identify as it was the only new food we added one day with cereal and banana (later we learned you shouldn’t feed your baby carrots until after a year, more on that later).
4) Start first feedings in the morning so you have all day to notice any allergic reactions. If you start at night you may not see a reaction. You can start with one meal a day and then lead up to 3 meals. We followed this rule and also found that Archer wasn’t as patient or interested in the evenings at first, so we started with one meal in the morning and now are up to three a day.
5) Feedings should be between each milk feeding. Wait an hour or two after the last milk feeding to do a solid feeding — baby should be hungry, but not too hungry as they’ll get frustrated at first.
6) Start water when you start solid foods. Give your baby a few sips of water when they’re eating it will help with any constipation and it aids in digestion.
7) Start with fruits, vegetables and baby cereals. There are some beliefs that you can feed your baby whatever you’re eating. We started with the basics so Archer can get the hang of eating and are slowly getting more adventurous.
8) Foods to avoid until your baby is over 10 months old (reason is these foods naturally contain high amounts of nitrates):
- green beans
- winter squash
- collard greens
9) Avoid nuts, especially peanuts, shellfish and honey until your baby is over 2 years old. Ask your pediatrician when and how to test if your baby has a nut or shellfish allergy.
10) Know what to do if your baby is choking. See my earlier post for videos on what to do.