- My baby is ready for solids. She is a little over 5 months and at a recent dinner party she grabbed a piece of steamed broccoli and chewed it to the stalk in minutes. She cried when we tried to take it away. It was one of the few occasions when I saw my typically happy baby make a huge fuss. Since she is under 6 months I could have waited for a few more weeks but I feel that she is ready.
The general consensus is that between 4 and 6 months and closer to 6 month, if possible, is the best time to start solids. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises being guided by baby’s developmental signs and start solids between 4 and 6 months.
From my experience as a mom and a pediatric dietitian, some babies are ready for solids as early as before 5 months and some are ready as late as at 7 months or even later for premature babies or those with developmental delays.
If I could give 2014 a badge, it would read “Starting solids”. Somehow most of my last year’s work was revolving around this topic, from writing articles about less conventional baby food and recent changes in nutritional recommendations to recording online classes on the introduction of solids and working on a baby food book with Jenna Helwig.
So, needless to say, after a year of writing, talking and teaching on the topic, I am very excited to introduce my own baby to solids :). I also decided to create a series of blog posts to share my experience.
At this point she is meeting most of the criteria that indicate her readiness to eat “like a big girl”:
– She can sit up pretty well with support. I put a rolled tea towel on each side of her high chair to help her sit more straight but she is getting there.
– She has a good control of her head and neck.
– She is VERY interested in food. This kid cannot sit on my lap when I am eating. She is watching every bite like a hawk, squirming and fussing and trying to grab everything in sight.
– Her thrust reflex is diminishing, meaning that she does not use her tongue to push out everything that goes in her mouth. She is learning fast to scoop the food off a spoon with her upper lip.
– She is able to self-feed on long pieces of safe finger foods. And she is getting pretty good at it. I will write more about safe finger food options in my Baby Led Weaning post. Self-feeding is not a prerequisite for starting solids, some babies enjoy purees for a few weeks before being able to self-feed.
– She is able to move food around her mouth and swallow some. It is fun to watch her “chewing” thoughtfully in an up-and-down motion. Although most of the food that she self-feeds ends up on her chin, bib, and floor.
– She more than doubled her birth weight.
Since I am more of a “let me look in the fridge and decide what’s for dinner” kind of person it will be reflected in how I will start baby on solids. With three kids and a part-time job, it works best for me. So I will probably not share lots of baby food recipes or meal plans, but more tips and tricks to have the job done, hopefully, have some fun along the way an tick off all the nutritional boxes.
At this point we are just playing with the idea of solids, giving her tastes of what we are eating, providing it is a single ingredient food without lots of salt. So far she has tried segments of orange (finger food), homemade tortilla type bread (finger food), avocado (puree with a little breastmilk), egg yolk (puree with a little breastmilk), broccoli (finger food) and pieces of chicken (finger food).
In a week or so I will start introducing her to new foods in a more systematic way and will hopefully be blogging about it right away.
In the next posts in the series I will talk about:
Your baby is unique.
So why copy how everyone else is starting solids? Welcome your baby into the wonderful world of food using this safe and responsive method.