We hear from a lot of parents that their pediatrician gave them an OK to start solid foods, but didn't give them much guidance on what and how to introduce those solids. If you’re like us, you may want more support and some guidance to make the process a positive one. The most important in starting solid foods for your baby is checking in with your baby to make sure they're ready. Small cues like reaching for your food at the dinner table is a good indication they have interest in solids.
It's also important to make sure your little one is developmentally ready for solid foods. This happens between 4 and 6 months (and experts may all have a slightly different opinion). Developmental signs are the most important thing to watch for, such as:
- Baby sits up without support
- No more tongue-thrust reflex (where baby pushes things out of their mouth)
- You see some pincer grasp happening (where little one picks up things between thumb and forefinger)
- You're seeing your baby take interest in mealtime and you may also see them try to grab food in front of them
The best first bite
Have you seen the raging debates about fruit as a first bite? There actually is no evidence that introducing fruits first leads to babies having a “sweet tooth.” On the contrary, there is some evidence that giving vegetables at the same time fruits are given, leads to more acceptance of vegetables (peaches and green beans, anybody?). Bottom line? There really isn’t a best first bite.
Exposure is your future best friend
There is a thing called a ‘palate opportunity’. This is a time when babies (from first bite to about 14 months) will eat almost anything. The more foods they try in this time, the more foods they will like later on. You might see some food challenges where you feed your baby 100 different foods before age one. It’s not an easy feat, but worth a try!
Give your baby a good base
Babies need to be supported when they eat. Think about it, they are learning new tastes and textures and just that is a lot for their little brains to process. This is not a time for a core workout. That’s why your high chair matters. Here’s a quick round up on how to adjust the high chair as your little one grows.
Decide BLW vs. Traditional Purees
Baby led weaning (BLW) is a method of introducing solid foods into a baby’s diet that skips the purees and goes straight to finger foods. Here’s a nice round up of the evidence, but the decision is really up to you. Around 8 months both feeding approaches converge. So don’t stress too much about it!
Of course, the most important thing is to trust your gut instincts when feeding, do it safely and gradually and check in with your pediatrician or a pediatric nutritionist if you have any questions or concerns.
This article brought to you by our partner foublie. Dr. Maria Rivera is a board certified pediatrician and toddler mom. Melissa Antal Iftimie is a nutrition and behavior expert. Together they founded Foublie, the pediatrician-approved virtual nutrition clinic to help families feed their kids with confidence. Want more? Check out their free resources on first foods.