It is one of the best and most looked-forward to milestones in every baby’s life, when it is time to start solid foods. When baby is ready to move from breastmilk/formula it can be exciting and a bit intimidating. Where do we start? What do we do? These are all questions that are frequently asked by new moms and dads who are about to start on this journey.
However, a baby eating solid foods means that many moms can finally get a break. If a mom has been exclusively breastfeeding up until this point, someone else can now step in and give the baby a meal. Dad may now have the chance to share in the joy of feeding his child.
As common as it is, there is still a lot of parents can be confused about when it comes to starting solid foods. A 2015 study by Beech-Nut Nutrition Company found that 54% of parents reported being ‘very confused’ about starting solids. This makes sense, because there is a lot of conflicting information out there about what to do or not do.
In the age where everyone turns to Google for an answer to a question, it is easy to see why moms could get confused. This misinformation can leave them to make some pretty big mistakes when it comes to introducing solid food. We have found 20 of these mistakes, which are much more common than people think.
This is probably the biggest argument about starting solid foods and that is when to start it. There are a lot of moms out there who are starting their baby on solid foods at 4-months old, and that would be a mistake. This often happens with first-time moms who go by what their doctor says because there is a relationship built.
Evidence is telling us that baby’s stomachs are not ready for solids until they are 6-months old. Also, age is not the only factor on if a baby is ready. They also should be able to completely hold their head up, sit up unassisted and have lost the tongue reflux. This reflux is when they automatically push anything out of their mouth. A lot of babies can not do these things until they are 6-months old.
On the other hand of the coin, mom doesn’t want to wait too long before she introduces solid to her baby. It is true that a baby needs breastmilk or formula until they are a year old, but their growing bodies will start to need more as they continue to grow and thrive. Also, if a mom waits too long to introduce solids, she may have a harder time getting her baby to adjust to the change.
Learning to eat solids is a skill. We, as adults, don’t think too much about it because we eat solids with no problem, but babies need to learn. They have never had to chew and break up food before, so they need to learn how to do this. The earlier they are started, the easier it will be to master this skill.
It can be an anxiety filled experience to start your baby on solid foods and a lot of moms will want to give them bland baby food; baby food that has no seasoning or spices. This may be a good idea when babies are just starting to eat foods, but it shouldn’t last too long. Too many moms make the mistake of keeping their baby’s food bland for too long.
Once eating has been established, it is OK and even beneficial to introduce some spices to their food. You don’t want to go too crazy, but some salt, pepper or other mild flavour is a good thing. This may mean that your little one won’t be as picky an eater as normal because they didn’t one day go from bland baby food to adult food that is full of flavour.
One of the main reasons why it is encouraged to start baby foods at 6-months is so that we can make sure our babies are getting all the nutrients we need. This means that mom needs to make sure that she is not missing any when it comes to introducing baby food.
For example, babies need a lot of iron when they are growing it helps their brain develop. Babies are born with a supply of iron from when they were in utero but that starts to run out around the time, they are 6-months old. It is important that mom is offering foods that are high in iron when they start feeding baby solid. Mom should pay attention to the nutrients that are in specific food to make sure their baby is getting everything they need.
When we start feeding our babies solid it is so tempting to sneak some sweet stuff in there. We, as adults, know how good a cookie, chocolate cake and ice cream taste so we are excited to introduce that to our little one. Artificial sugars have no place in an early diet for a baby and should never be one of their first foods.
This may be a lesson that actually needs to be taught to grandparents, as they are famous for sneaking a little treat to their grandchildren. They mean well, but it has no nutritional value and could lead to weight problems later on. If you think your little one is missing out, don’t. They have never tasted a chocolate chip cookie before, so they don’t know what they are missing out on.
Since so much of the early days of feeding a baby are bottles or breastmilk, it becomes second-nature to mom. We know when they are hungry, and we know when they are done eating. It is something we don’t even have to think of. However, mom could miss the cues when it comes to feeding their baby solid food. They may miss the signs that the baby is full and doesn’t want to eat anymore.
This can lead to over-eating, which could cause an upset stomach. You want to give your child the ability to self-regulate when it comes to their food. Even if there is only a spoonful left, if the baby is saying no it is time to take it away. If the baby is shaking their head, saying no or just seeming to be disinterested that means he is done.
This one happens far too often, and I even made this mistake when I introduced my daughter to solid foods. I fed her alone. I would bring the high chair in the living room and feed her dinner while my husband and I ate earlier or later. We didn’t eat as a family. It is not seen as a big deal, because we know that they are too young to understand the concept of a ‘family dinner.’
However, the earlier you start at introducing this concept, the better off you will be. Family dinners will just be the norm, and your baby will grow into a child that wants to eat at the family table. It can also help a baby eat more and better when they are surrounded by mom and dad eating. They are at an age where they want to mimic you, so make sure they are mimicking good habits.
This is the most dreaded thing about introducing solid foods to baby, the mess. We can understand that, it is messy enough to be a mom without adding any additional messes to clean up. A mom who can’t handle her baby getting messy during feeding is making a big oopsie.
The reason why it is OK for your baby to get messy when they are eating, and why it is even encouraged is because they are learning. They are just learning about the different foods, so this is the one time it is totally acceptable to play with your food. They are going to learn about food by touching it, tasting it and smearing it everywhere.
It is always fun to introduce foods to babies and watch their reaction, there are hundreds of videos on YouTube of this very thing. The faces they make are hilarious and adorable. Babies will often make faces at any food that is put in their mouth at first because it is new and different. This does not mean that they do not like the food.
Even if the baby constantly spits the food out, it is not a sign that they do not like the food and it should never be offered again. It can take a baby trying a new food up to ten times before they develop a taste for it. Even if they still refuse, it is always a good idea to reintroduce it at a later time.
One of the big pieces of advice a mom will get from her doctor when it comes to introducing solid foods is to do it slowly. They say to only introduce one thing at a time and stick to that food for a couple of days only. A lot of moms are really excited about starting solid foods and they start mixing up purees or buying packages with a combination of food.
This could be a big mistake. The reason they tell you to start slowly is to watch for any irritation. If you feed your baby one thing at a time, and they seem to have some difficulty, mom will know exactly what it was that caused it. If there are multiple ingredients in the food, mom will have a hard time figuring out what caused the reaction.
While it is good to introduce solid foods early, around the 6-month mark, mom needs to remember that solid foods should not yet be the priority. Formula or breastmilk should be the baby’s primary source of nutrition until they are one year old. They should be getting most of their food from these sources. Solid food is great at adding extra nutrition, but it is a time for learning.
The baby has 6 months to learn about food and how to eat food. This period is all about introducing different foods to your baby and letting them explore. While it is great for mom to get a break, she should be offering breastmilk or formula before solid foods.
When a baby starts on solid foods it is normally mom doing a lot of the work. Mom will be there feeding the baby with a spoon, and that is OK. Mom needs to spoon-feed the baby because they have no idea what they are doing. It can be easy for this to fall into habit, because it is easy and fast. However, mom should make sure she doesn’t do the feeding for too long.
It is always a good idea to encourage your baby to feed themselves. In the beginning, offer them a spoon as well and do it together. It helps teach them independence and allows them the freedom to regulate how much they eat and how much they put on the spoon.
Now it goes without saying that babies should be eating foods that are healthy and full of vitamins and minerals, but there is a thing as too healthy for a baby. There is a push on fruits and vegetables being given to babies and meat and other products being introduced much later. This could be a mistake.
There is a worry about the amount of fat in other foods that some parents deem as unhealthy for their children. What they are forgetting is that growing babies need fat, especially if it is good fat, to grow. Good fats that are found in meant and yogurt are essential to a growing baby and mom and dad should be introducing them to their little ones.
Not all foods are created equally, there are differences between baby food and adult food. Even if mom makes her own baby food it needs to be geared towards what a baby need. When a baby starts solid foods, it can be tempting to give them a few tastes here and there of adult foods. Food that normally wouldn’t be given to a baby who is just starting to eat food.
It has been found that what we introduce our babies to when they are young can alter their taste buds, so that means it is even more important to make sure they are eating fruits, vegetables and other healthy food well before they eat chicken nuggets, fries and pizza.
There are no limits a mom will take to make sure her baby eats well. If a baby is having a hard time eating, they may resort to putting on a show in order to get their little ones to eat. We all know the games, the train or airplane that is coming into the station. These are age-old tricks moms have used to get their little one to open their mouth.
Just because something has been done for years does not make it right. These kinds of entertaining tricks can be problematic for a little one who is learning how to self-regulate their food. If the baby is otherwise healthy and growing there should never be a time when they are forced to eat. This would be ignoring the signs that we talked about earlier. Always offer food, but never force it.
High chairs are very popular, and they usually show up on baby registries everywhere as mom’s trying to get ready for what they will need in just a few months. A high chair is incredibly important when it comes to feeding a baby solids, and it can never be replaced. A lot of parents, in an effort to save time and space, like to feed their babies in other places.
High-chairs can actually save your baby’s life, believe it or not. They support the baby when sitting upright and this can prevent them from choking on their food. When a baby is in a highchair, he is also less likely to get distracted and will focus more on eating.
This is a popular one that a lot of parents fall victim too. They avoid giving their child foods that they don’t like. This is not something that is done on purpose, mom just doesn’t think to buy or make foods that she doesn’t like. This could be bad, because you are robbing your child of the nutrients the food is holding.
Items like avocados, broccoli and peas are some of the common foods adults don’t like, so they don’t feed them to their baby. However, they are full or iron, good fat and protein and these are all things that the baby needs to grow.
One of the biggest fears when starting solids is feeding your baby food that is no good. Food that may not have been cooked enough. No one likes to get food poisoning, so no one wants to give it to their children. This means that a lot of parents out there over cook their food to make sure that it is well for the babies to eat.
However, overcooked foods can contain little to no nutritional value because all of the nutrients have been cooked out. If vegetables are cooked too long, it can leave them too mushy and without all the nutrients you were counting on. Even when cooking meant, it is important to make sure the meat is cooked through but overcooking it can make it tough for the baby to eat. Invest in a good food thermometer for peace of mind.
A lot of people are starting to do baby-led weaning which is when parents offer food to their baby in its original form and allow them to play with it and eat it. This means they do not puree anything, and it turns out if mom is starting solids with purees, they may be doing it wrong.
Many moms have a fear of choking and this makes baby-led weaning off-limits to them, but if the food is prepared properly for the baby, there is very little risk of choking. Babies who are fed purees have less of a chance learning how to chew food. Also, when chewing the saliva in the mouth helps to break down the food better which can help prevent constipation.
The number one rule when it comes to starting babies on solid foods is that honey should never be allowed. Parents may want to add some honey to food to enhance the flavour or encourage the baby to eat it, but their little bodies can not break down honey until they are 1 and this can lead to infant botulism.
There used to be a lot of foods that were off-limits to young babies but that has changed. Now, honey and any choking risk food like popcorn are really the only two things that babies cannot eat. They found that introducing babies to foods like peanut butter and strawberries actually decreased the number of allergies as they got older.
References: health.usnews.com, jillcastel.com, gomama247.com