This is Day 87 of the Green in 365 series!
On Tuesday we talked about some of the benefits of Baby Led Weaning, and today I want to share some tips on how to get started with solid foods for your baby.
To begin with, you need to look for signs of readiness in your baby. Some of the signs that he is ready to start solids are:
- Baby can sit up unassisted and has strong neck control.
- Baby begins reaching, or “asking” for food while your family is eating.
- Baby makes chewing motions with their mouth, showing that he can chew, and have lost the tongue-thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of his mouth.
- Baby is picking things up and moving them toward his mouth.
- Baby is at least 6 months old. The AAP and WHO recommend delaying solids until after six month to avoid potential food allergies. (source)
Both my son and my second daughter “told” us that they were ready to start solids by being very vocal during meal times, reaching for the food we were eating, and making chewing motions and sounds with their mouth when we were eating meals. My son was right around 6 months old, and my daughter was 7 months old.
When we started them on solids, we did it very slowly, a little at a time, in a very relaxed way. Offering them appropriate foods from what we were eating at mealtime, and letting them feed themselves while also helping them a little, as needed.
Here are some tips for beginning your baby on solid, table foods:
• Of course, only feed your baby whole, real foods – no processed, fake foods! Organic (when you can) fruits and veggies, high quality, preferably pastured, meats, eggs, and dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
• Try to avoid grains until your baby is at least a year old, their digestive tracks are not ready to digest grains until that age.
• The size of the food that you give to your baby is dependent on what you feel comfortable with. Some people prefer to give bigger pieces the baby can easily grasp and bring to their mouth, but cannot get the whole thing in their mouth. The baby can gum and chew it and get smaller pieces off.
Others prefer to give their baby smaller pieces, which are harder for a young baby to pick up, but then they won’t get a piece that is too large and could be choked on. As they get older and are more competent at biting and chewing food, the pieces can become bigger and easier for them to pick up and hold.
• Speaking of choking, babies have a very strong gag reflex that naturally pushes food toward the front of the baby’s mouth. You may notice that your baby gags sometimes, but they are not actually choking, just moving the food back to the front of their mouth, and they are not distressed by it, they just continue on eating, almost like it didn’t happen.
Also remember that starting solids really doesn’t mean that your baby gets much nutritional value from food. Breast milk should still be the focus of feeding your baby, and provides absolutely everything that she needs nutritionally. At this stage they are just learning how different foods feel, smell, and taste, working on their fine motor skills, and socializing at the dinner table with the family.
For us, this way of feeding our babies has just become natural, but I know it basically bucks the system and the social norm for feeding a baby with baby food and purees. So if you have questions about anything, or want me to explain something more specifically, please just ask, I’m happy to answer your questions!
Finally tomorrow we’ll talk about the best first foods for baby!
How did you start your baby on solids without baby food or purees?
Find all the Green in 365 posts.
- Breastfeeding: The Greenest Way to Feed Your Baby
- Starting Solids: Benefits of Baby Led Weaning
- Starting Solids: Best First Foods for Babies
- Baby Led Weaning: Helpful Resources
- Feeding Baby – Breastfeeding and Beyond
- Feeding Baby: Breastfeeding and Beyond, Part II
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