When your baby approaches the 4 month mark, many parents are lured into the idea that it is time to start solids! This leaves many with a feeling of uneasiness and parents simply are stumped with what food to introduce and when. In this post, I break it down to a few easy principles.
1. Your baby will eat for the rest of his/her life. If you aren’t ready to tackle solids, wait! There is no need to rush into anything. In the first 12 months, your baby will experiment with a lot of things, one being food; breast milk/formula should remain the most important nutrient source throughout the first year.
2. Make sure to assess developmental readiness for starting solids.
Can your baby sit up unassisted?
Did your baby lose the “extrusion reflex” (Does your baby still stick out his tongue when you put something in his mouth and try to push it out?)
Can your baby hold himself up on his elbows while laying on his belly?
If you said yes to all of these questions, then your baby is developmentally ready to start solids. If not, it is important to wait to introduce foods to prevent choking or gagging. Prior to this, your baby just will not know what to do with the foods you introduce, and many times parents confuse this with their baby not preferring a type of food.
3. Start simple and take your time! Introduce one new food every 3-5 days. Monitor your baby for any unpleasant side effects such as skin rash/swelling, diarrhea, or vomiting, among others. Consult your pediatrician if any of these occur. Additionally, if you feel your baby is having trouble breathing after food ingestion, call 911 immediately.
4. Make your own baby foods!! Don’t limit yourself to what is available in the jar. Making baby foods is simple and takes little thought. Have some peas in the back of your freezer?? Microwave, puree, and serve! Avocados, cauliflower, broccoli, mango, just a few examples of easy foods to try; however it is important to ensure the texture is smooth and easy to tolerate
5. Research now shows there is no need to wait to introduce certain foods*, which was once recommended. Foods such as whole milk yogurt or cheese, eggs, nuts, and fish can all be introduced prior to one year, and make great options for your baby. Continue the important practice to ensure the texture is safe for your baby, for instance peanut butter can be mixed into foods, but can be a choking hazard if spread as a thick layer on bread. Also, always avoid honey or corn syrup for there is a risk of food-borne illness in infants under 1 year of age.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have an allergic family history, it IS suggested to wait on major allergens, thus dairy products can be introduced after 12 months, eggs after 24 months and peanuts/tree nuts, fish, and shellfish after 36 months.