starting baby on solids foods: how to know when and what to feed

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126026933v15_240x240_front_color-white.jpgDon’t you just love this onesie? When I took one of my babies to the pediatrician for his 6 month check-up, the conversation went something like this:

Pediatrician: So have you started giving your baby solid food yet?

Thinking mother: No, not yet.

Pediatrician: Well, when are you going to start?

Me: When my milk isn’t meeting his needs anymore.

Pediatrician: Well, when do you think that’s going to be? …a good time to start is when your baby is around 6 months old.

Me: I really don’t know at this point. It could be next week or maybe not for a few months. He’s pretty healthy, isn’t he? I mean look at those thighs. My milk is all he needs right now.

Pediatrician: hmm. (laughing), I guess you’re right. He is a little chunk. And he’s healthy (looking at the medical chart), you haven’t brought him in for any sick visits.

Tips on knowing when to start your baby on solid food:

  • Look at your baby, not at the calendar for knowing when to start solid food; it could be anywhere between 5 and 10 months of age for healthy babies
  • Baby just seems a little fussy after feedings, not as satisfied as he once was
  • Baby wakes up at night after sleeping through the night (this could have other causes like teething or sickness)
  • Baby watches your every move while eating like he wants to get in on the action too
  • Baby starts grabbing your food (can be confusing because babies naturally want to grab everything)
  • If baby thrusts his tongue out at you and seems to gag on the food, he’s not ready. Try again in a few days.

baby’s first perfect foods

  • applesauceavocado.jpg
  • mashed up bananas with a little breastmilk to thin it banana.jpgout
  • mashed up avocado with a little breastmilk in it
  • baby cereals made with breastmilk
  • pears, apples, boiled to soften them
  • sweet potatoes, thinned with breastmilk

what the pediatricians say

* Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.

* Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age. Unique needs or feeding behaviors of individual infants may indicate a need for introduction of complementary foods as early as 4 months of age, whereas other infants may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age.

* Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk.

* During the first 6 months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants and may introduce contaminants or allergens.

* Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births). * There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.

Excerpts from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on Breastfeeding and use of human milk section 10.