Starting your baby on solid food
To tell you the truth, I was not excited about starting my baby on solids. I was a happy breastfeeding mama enjoying the convenience of being a portable, anytime-you-need-it restaurant specifically formulated for my baby’s needs but… I knew I had the take the plunge. He can’t be on the boob forever!
The How and When of Baby Food
Babies should start solids when they reach 6 months of age and no sooner. Their digestive systems are simply too immature to handle anything but breast milk or formula before this point. Slow and steady is key as too much can cause your little one to have tummy troubles or become constipated, neither of which make a happy baby. If you are feeling reluctant to start as I was, remind yourself that solid foods before 1 year old is more for the experience and less about nutrition. Up until this point the primary source of nutrition should continue to be breastmilk or formula.
Start with one meal a day and go slow with the portion size, especially when introducing a new food. Some babies, like mine, don’t know when to stop eating because they’re having too much fun so listen to your mama gut instinct. You don’t need to give in to that smiling baby mouth wide open waiting for his next bite. As my sister says, mom is boss.
In all my research the general consensus from the experts says to introduce a new food for 3-5 days. This is to watch for reactions. To err on the side of caution I usually went with 5 days and only introduced a new food at lunch. Supper is not a great time to feed your baby something new as you are not as able to watch for reactions like an upset tummy throughout the night.
To Make or To Buy
Buying baby food may bring some level of convenience for you as parents but in all honesty, it’s difficult to trust any kind of processed food. I opted to make all of my baby’s food as I wanted to know exactly what he was eating. This decision was reconfirmed during a recent recall of baby food. For more details you can check out this notice. I purchased most produce organic to minimize exposure to harmful pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). There are some things you can buy conventional. If you need tips on what can be bought conventional versus what is better to buy organic check out this post.
If you choose to make your baby’s food you don’t need any fancy equipment. Here’s what I use:
- A good vegetable peeler
- Kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Pot with a steamer top
- Hand blender – we already had this on hand for making soup
- Feeding spoons (We bought the OXO Tot Feeding Spoon)
- Glass containers to store the food (We bought a few small portion sized containers from the dollar store)
Start with lunch, and introduce supper roughly 6-10 weeks in depending on how your baby is taking to the new experience. Breakfast can follow a few weeks after this. By the time your baby is 9 months old three meals a day should be the norm. You can also introduce small snacks throughout the day as you feel necessary.
Best Foods to Start With
Here’s a list of some of the best foods to prepare for baby’s first meals:
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
A Note on Supplements
My son has been on probiotics since birth and I believe this is a big contributor for why he’s never been sick. He’s currently 11 months old. He takes HMF Natogen Baby B by Genestra. If your baby is on formula she will need this version: HMF Natogen Baby F by Genestra. One scoop a day is all your baby needs. I usually mix it in with his food near the end of his lunchtime meal. Roughly 70% of your immune system is in your gut and probiotics will only further help to populate baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria crowding out any space for the ones that can cause harm.
We also give our son Vitamin D daily. This is a liquid form and is formulated to provide baby with the recommended 400IU daily. This is important as most babies do not receive the amount of sunlight required to make their own vitamin D. This is especially important for babies who have or show signs of jaundice.
Just remember, solids for your baby is purely experience. Don’t force it. It will get messy. You will have spoon battles. Your laundry load can double in size. Ah, the joys of being a new mom.