There is a lot of conflicting information out there and as a new parent it’s hard to know what to believe or trust. Starting solids can feel really daunting for some parents. We at Feed Well Co want our parents well knowledgeable and ready for when they get the green light from their pediatrician. Well let's jump in, how does a parent know their baby is ready for solids? Some pediatricians will suggest at the 4 month visit to start introducing solids, others may wait until 6 months to make this suggestion. The current AAP recommendation is to wait until your baby is 6 months AND meeting the signs of readiness.
Signs of readiness a parent can look for at home are: they can sit up with little to no assistance, they can open their mouth when food is offered, and they have solid head and neck control and are able to turn their head away if they don’t want to eat. What are feeding cues? As parents are taught from day one of the baby’s life to watch for hunger cues, these are similar but differ then just rooting. They consist of; reaching for food or spoons, leaning forward toward a spoon or bottle, smacking or sucking their lips or making chewing sounds, willing to open their mouths, and becoming excited to see food. A key thing to remember is that babies do not need teeth to start solids. Signs your baby is no longer interested include: turning their head away, cries or fussiness, loses interest or gets distracted, pushes the spoon away and clamps their mouth shut.
Depending on your baby’s readiness and nutritional needs, most pediatricians will hold off on starting solids until 6 months. Around 6 months of age, your baby will start to develop the ability to move food from the front of their mouth to the back so they can swallow. If you get the green light to start solids, but your baby seems frustrated or uninterested in foods, I would recommend waiting a couple days and trying again. Breast milk or formula will still provide your baby with all essential nutritional needs until they are ready. It is recommended to continue breastfeeding or formula until 12 months of age. After 6 months, a baby will usually breastfeed 5-6 times a day and continue while you're introducing solids. When introducing solids at 6 months of age breast milk or formula will still be their main source of nutrients, at around the 9 month mark skills like chewing and swallowing have developed and are being perfected. After 12 months of age, the main source of nutrients becomes solid foods, but you can still breastfeed as long as you and baby desire. Today, we will discuss puree feeding, in another blog we'll talk about baby led weaning.
First foods should include iron rich foods and zinc. You can introduce any number of foods at a time and in any order. Ok, let’s get to the most important part of this blog: what are some good food choices to start with? Please keep in mind that food may need be thinned with breast milk or formula at first. Foods should also be mashed or pureed depending on your baby's age/stage.
- Mashed or cooked fruits- apples, bananas, avocados, pears, melon
- Mashed or pureed vegetables- potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato.
- Dairy - yogurt, and full fat cheeses
- Minced meat, poultry, and fish
- Tofu, or legumes
- mashed , cooked eggs
- Grains- oatmeal, rice or pastas
So what does a daily food schedule look like for a 6 month old: breakfast (baby oatmeal), lunch (fruit), and dinner (meat or meat alternative and veggies). But remember you are also breastfeeding 5-6 times a day in between meals or with meals. For an 8-12 month old the feeding schedule and amounts increase. Solids are given 3 times a day and 2 snacks, 4-6 oz of breastmilk or formula at a feeding session equaling 24-30 oz daily. As an example, breakfast could be 2-4 oz or ¼ cup of cereal or 1 mashed or scrambled egg, 2-4 oz mashed or pureed fruit and 4-6 oz breastmilk. Morning snack 2-4 oz or ¼ cups diced cheese or cooked pureed veggies, 4-6 oz breast milk or formula. Lunch could consist of 2-4 oz yogurt or diced beans or meat, 2-4 oz cooked or pureed yellow or orange veggies, and 4-6 oz breastmilk or formula. Afternoon snack- 2-4 oz yogurt, mashed or diced fruits, 2-4 oz water. Dinner would again be 2-4 oz diced meats, 2-4 oz cooked veggies, 2-4 oz soft whole grains, pasta or potatoes, 2-4 oz diced or mashed fruit and 4-6 oz breastmilk or formula.
We refer to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) for all infant starting solids info. If you have any questions or concerns please schedule a visit and we can discuss them further.