Starting Solids: Tips & Products to Make the Transition Easier
Starting your baby on solids can be stressful, even for second-time moms like myself. When I was getting ready to give my little one food for the first time, I felt lost. I made a list of half a dozen questions to ask my pediatrician, such as: What foods should I start with? At what age should I start giving solids? How do I balance breastmilk/formula with new foods? Should I try baby led weaning or start with purees? If you're asking yourself any (or all) of these questions, you are not alone. We all want to do what's best for our babies. Here are some frequently asked questions and feeding tips to help the transition to solids easier for you:
When should I start giving my baby solids?
Before you do anything, make sure to speak with your pediatrician. When and how to start solids will be different for every baby. Most pediatricians will recommend starting babies on solids at about six months. No matter when you decide to introduce solids, remember that the most important part of a baby’s diet will still be formula or breast milk until age one.
Babies develop at different rates, so make sure to watch for signs that your child is developmentally ready for food. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Your baby can support his/her head and sit upright independently.
- Your baby is interested in what you are eating, and will open his/her mouth when food is brought close.
- Your baby can use his/her tongue to move small foods or purees to the back of the mouth to be swallowed. If your baby is instead letting the food fall directly from their mouth, then they may not be ready for solids yet.
What foods should I feed to my baby?
Most pediatricians will tell you that the order you introduce foods is not that important as long as you give a variety. At around six months, you can begin giving your baby fruits, vegetables, and baby cereals (avoiding rice cereals for every meal to prevent consuming too much arsenic). Around eight months, you can begin incorporating yogurts and meat while continuing to give breast milk and formula regularly throughout the day.
When introducing a food for the first time, make sure to watch your child closely to make sure they don’t have a negative reaction that may indicate an allergy. When preparing foods, make sure to cut in small enough pieces to avoid choking. If you are giving them fruits or veggies that are naturally hard (apples, broccoli, carrots), it is best to cook them first to soften them. Remember that feeding your baby doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to make your own baby food if you don’t want to. It’s super easy to mash a banana with a fork or slice up an avocado.
How do I balance solids with formula or breastfeeding?
When beginning solids, remember to take it slow and let your child lead. I found that it worked best for us to begin with small amounts once per day while continuing our regular breastfeeding schedule. As my baby got more of an appetite and showed more interest in foods, I began adding more structured meals, making sure to continue to breastfeed on demand throughout the day. This is a gradual process and it will look different for everyone.
Can I give my baby water?
Most pediatricians will say that it is ok to offer small sips of water with their solids once your baby is six months. If you feel comfortable with this, do not give more than four ounces of water in a day. Drinking too much water can prevent a baby from drinking enough breast milk or formula, which is nutritionally essential for your baby. If you do not feel comfortable giving water, you can offer breast milk/formula after feeding your baby solids.
How do I prevent my baby from overeating?
Most babies will give you cues if they are full. Babies will start to slow down, stop opening their mouth when food is brought near, or may even turn their heads away. Do not force your baby to eat a certain amount. If your child is getting hiccups often, this may be a sign that you are overfeeding them. Letting babies feed themselves may also help them to get just the right amount, while also helping them with their fine motor skills.
What products will make the transition to solids easier (and less messy)?
Having baby products that make feeding easier can make all the difference. Here’s a quick checklist of some items that may help:
- High Chair: Get a high chair you love. I recommend getting something that fits in your space. If you have a small home or apartment, try a seat attachment or compact high chair. Just make sure that you get something you love. It will make feeding time less daunting.
- Plates/Bowls: Plates and bowls that suction to the table or high chair make all the difference. This will prevent your baby from throwing their whole meal on the floor in one motion. I personally love the ezpz mini mat.
- Cups: Having a cup that will be non-spill and easy for baby to use is essential. Cups that show the measurement on the side is also nice if you are trying to keep track of how much water they are drinking.
- Utensils: Utensils can be tricky for babies to use at first. NumNum Dips are a super unique utensil that allows baby to easily pick up food. It also helps babies develop the skills that will be needed when they are ready to use a more traditional spoon or fork.
- Bibs: I definitely recommend bibs that catch falling food that are also simple to clean. Silicone bibs are the BEST way to go. They rinse off quickly and easily.
- Silicone Feeder: These are a great way to give your baby fresh fruits or veggies without the fear of them choking on big pieces. The silicone design also makes it super easy to clean.
- Snack Cups: As you start solids, make sure to keep snacks in your diaper bag for on the go.
- Floor mat: Babies will inevitably drop food on the floor. Placing a mat under the high chair will allow most of the mess to be caught. You can then pick up the mat and quickly brush it off outside or in the trash can. This prevents you from having to sweep and mop your floor several times a day.