But when we do start down that lane, I am eating ALL of this advice. Right. Up. Hop to her site for two recipes & a giveaway of one of my Bandit Bibs. Like you're a bunny. hop hop HOP. And while you're there, follow her because we all need all the food help we can get.
Thanks, Sarah. Take it away with your adorable children!!
Hello Whole Parenting friends! I’ve been following along with Nell’s adventures since her blog was mentioned over on Camp Patton a while back. I always enjoy seeing what she is up to, and reading her advice on all things kid related! Let’s just say her recent post on 4 year old discipline spoke to me! I’m a mama to two mostly sweet boys—David (pronounced in Spanish— da-veed), 3 ½, and Jonathan, 6 months. You can read all about our foodie adventures over on my blog Fried Dandelions. Stop by today to get two new baby food recipes, and enter for a chance to win one of Nell’s fabulous Bandit Bibs!
Today I am excited/honored/privileged to share with you some tips on starting babies on solids. My little guy just turned 6 months and it’s been fun to help him experience new foods. Looking at him, it’s pretty obvious that he hasn’t met a food that he doesn’t like! Hoping that will continue through toddlerhood!
These are suggestions based on my personal experiences. Always consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby.
Baby Led Weaning Hybrid—Texture.
We’re trying a bit of a hybrid of Baby Led Weaning. Rather than giving Jonathan chunks of food to play with, I’m still mashing things up quite a bit. However, I’m not pureeing them in the food processor—I’m leaving some texture to them so that he can learn what “real food” is like. We’ve also allowed him to use the spoon right off the bat and he LOVES it! I don’t think we let David handle a spoon until he was at least 9 months old, and even then it was minimal—we were terrified of the mess. With Jonathan we just handed him a spoon on day 1 and he’s having a blast. I let him hang on to the spoon as long as he likes between bites, allowing him to control when he is ready for more. I’ve tried putting some food directly on the tray to let him play with and lick off his fingers but he has no interest in that! He just wants the spoon—or the bowl.
Try different combinations, sweet, savory, etc.
Help build your child’s palate! They are a clean slate, and have no preconceived notions or sweet breakfast and savory dinners, etc. They don’t know that bell peppers are gross (they are!) and that coconut is the best (it is!)! Provide them with a wide range of tastes and flavors so that they can discover what they like. That said, I introduce new foods one at a time, and allow a day or 2 to pass before introducing something new (say, pumpkin for 2 days before trying banana for 2 days, and then combining!). This way it is easy to trouble shoot if your child has a reaction, or any tummy discomfort.
Once I feel like a particular food is going well, I then like to play with seasoning. Jonathan loves pumpkin and bananas, so I’ve started adding a tiny bit of cinnamon to the mix. He also loves avocados, so I make a bit of “baby guac” by adding some garlic powder and cumin. I do not add any salt or sugar, as I am trying to set his palate and don’t want him to “need” either of those to enjoy his food.
Add coconut oil for healthy fats.
Coconut oil is used for everything in my house—cooking, makeup remover, diaper cream, lotion, etc. It is a “good” fat, and has lots of beneficial qualities. Babies benefit from a fatty diet, as healthy fats boost brain development and healthy growth. Also, Jonathan has some eczema and I am hoping that by adding some coconut oil into his foods it will help to moisturize his skin from within! I add about 1 teaspoon each time he eats. (I’m hoping to do some more dietary trouble shooting with our pediatrician at our next visit, but this is where I am now!).
Mix with breast milk.
To help ease the transition from the flavor of breast milk to solid food, I like to mix a little bit of breast milk right in. However, I don’t have time to pump every day, just for a few tablespoons of milk—do any moms have time for that? So a week before we were going to start solids, on the weekend when I had more time, I did a single pumping session. I froze the milk into ice cubes and keep them in the freezer. I defrost them at room temp (don’t microwave) and mix in. Now that Jonathan has adjusted to solids I use water most of the time. I’m not mixing with juice, as I don’t want him to develop a sweet tooth just yet!
Don’t rush to wean—allow them to keep nursing about the same amount as they were before.
The AAP recommends beginning solids at 6 months of age, and to breastfeed for baby’s entire first year. Even though solids have been introduced, Jonathan is still nursing around the clock—we usually nurse about 5 times a day, sometimes more depending on how he is feeling, our activity level, etc. Babies nurse for a variety of reasons—not just for fuel. Nursing provides comfort, security, and “down time” for mama too! The very large majority of his nutrients are still coming from breast milk. The solids are supplementary.
The first time around, it was very easy to have set feeding times, and to plan my day around when David “needed” to eat. Now with 2, David’s schedule still sets the tone for what we are doing, which means that poor Jonathan fills in the gaps. Some days we’re all up in time for him to enjoy solids for breakfasts, other days, like on mornings when David has preschool, Jonathan’s first solids might be lunch! I follow his lead and let him tell me when he is hungry, knowing that as long as I have nursed him, he’s doing fine!
Relax and have fun!
I think this is really important. Babies feed off of your emotions, and if you are relaxed, their solid food experience will be more enjoyable for everyone. This means—messes will happen! Jonathan must throw his spoon on the floor at least once every feeding. And we have carpet in our dining room (yes, I know, what was my landlord thinking?). I keep a drawer full of baby washcloths in our kitchen for easy clean up (I find them to be more gentle than paper towels and wipes, plus they’re more eco friendly!). I also try to relax by following his lead, giving him control of the spoon (see above), and giving him some freedom. I’ve even let my 3 year old help with the feeding which makes them both so happy (and I can keep working in the kitchen!).
I also try to pay attention to his cues for when to back off, and when solids just aren’t going to happen. Sometimes our days seem to come crashing in to dinner time and Jonathan is just too tired to give solids a try, so we skip, nurse, and I send him to bed, ready to start fresh in the morning!
I hope these tips help you out on you and your baby’s journey into solids! Remember to stop by my site for some seasonal baby food recipes and enter to win a Bandit Bib from Nell, and also check out her fabulous Etsy shop for more baby goodies!
Sarah is a mostly-crunchy, vegan mom of two boys, living in the Seattle area with her not-vegan husband. When she’s not busy prepping meals that her whole hungry family can enjoy, she can be found blogging at Fried Dandelions, focusing on plant based family friendly meals. You can follow their foodie adventures on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.