Introducing Solids

Obligatory disclaimer: WE ARE NOT DOCTORS! Check with your pediatrician before changing any aspect of your child’s diet.

On this week’s episode, we reminisce about starting solids. Below we’ve compiled our thoughts and other resources on the subject.

When to start

6 months.

There is no real reason to start solids anytime before this. Babies get all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula before the age of one. As the saying goes, “Food before one is just for fun.”

Don’t listen to your mother-in-law or daycare provider who says your 4-month-old is really hungry and some rice cereal would help. And if your pediatrician suggests solids before 6 months, press him to understand why. If there’s a medical reason, sure, go for it. But if he’s just old-school, wait.

Generally, your kid should be able to sit up on their own and hold their head up (so they can swallow the food). Most kids have hit these milestones by 6 months.

What to start with

Vegetables, orange ones (pureed carrots or sweet potatoes).

There’s no reason to start with rice cereal. It provides no nutritional value, so give them something with actual nutrients instead.

Starting with vegetables, some say, is better than fruit. The thinking goes that if you give them something very sweet, they won’t want to eat veggies later. I’m not sure how true that is, but pureed carrots or sweet potatoes are easy enough. Make the puree fairly watery.

What you’ll need

A note about making purees:

To make a puree you simply steam the veggies and puree in a blender or food processor with a little water. Don’t get roped into buying a baby food maker: you don’t need it.

This book lays out a plan for making baby food ahead of time. It’s also full of lots of great ideas on how to combine flavors. If you plan to make food, it’s a good idea to invest in silicone ice cube trays, so you can freeze individual portions ahead of time.

What to do

About an hour after a feeding of breast milk or formula, sit your baby in the high chair with a bib on. Offer small spoon-fulls of puree. The first couple of times your baby might be disinterested completely or only eat 1-2 bites. That’s OK! Keep offering puree once a day. Eventually they’ll get the hang of it.

For the first couple months, offer about an ounce of puree once a day. Again, food at this point is for fun and for getting used to the idea of eating. It does not replace breast milk or formula.

When you introduce a new food, feed only that food for 2-3 days. Doing this will help you isolate a food allergy (i.e., if your child gets a rash, you’ll know what caused it). Once you have “cleared” a food, you can combine it with other “cleared” foods (i.e., if you’ve done 2-3 days of carrots-only with no issues and then 2-3 of sweet potatoes-only with no issues, you can then combine sweet potatoes and carrots).

What to feed them

Basically anything! Again, check with your pediatrician, but mine said the only off-limits thing was honey before the age of one. This includes feeding them common allergens like peanut butter (when they get a little better at chewing and swallowing, since it’s sticky) and strawberries.

Here are some food ideas!