With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many new parents start to think about getting baby involved in sharing the family meal. Starting solids is an exciting and important milestone in your baby’s development! It's important you introduce solids at the right time. Here are some helpful tips from our Parent & Me Curriculum Director, Dr. Jill Campbell, on when and how to introduce solids into your baby's diet and which foods to try first:
1. Start solid foods in the morning or early afternoon. Give your baby his first meal when he is not too hungry or too full.
2. Check with your pediatrician. Often avocado, sweet potato, squash, green beans, peas, peaches, pears, bananas, quinoa, barley, and oatmeal are good foods to start. Don’t use a mixture of foods, because if your baby is allergic to one of those foods, you won’t know which one.
3. At first you will probably begin with one feeding a day. The amount may be as small as one to two teaspoons or as large as two tablespoons. At first make food very soupy by adding breastmilk, formula or water to it. We love the new Olababy Training Spoons and Steam Bowls designed specifically for baby led weaning!
4. After a few days of the first food, you should be able to introduce other solids.
5. Baby may not like solids at the start. Baby may make a face at any new food. Be patient. Offer it often. After 5 to 15 times, it will no longer seem new. But don’t force it–ever. Just offer your baby the spoonful a few times. If he resists, respect him, and just try again at the next meal. You don’t want to connect new tastes and textures with struggles.
6. Many suggest waiting three to five days after introducing a new food before introducing another to see whether your baby develops any signs of an allergy. You may want to try new foods in the morning, so you have the day to see if any allergic reaction comes. A rash that usually starts on the face, diarrhea, or vomiting, can warn you to stop giving baby the new food. Baby has a better chance of allergy if food allergy runs in the family. If you think you are seeing a reaction, consult your pediatrician. Wheezing, hives, or fainting are severe reactions and very uncommon at this age. If this happens, call 911 immediately.
8. Don’t continue the meal once your baby has lost interest.
9. At about eight to nine months of age (once baby masters the pincer grasp) baby is ready for finger foods. Breast milk or formula is still the most important food until baby is one year of age.
Water: When you introduce solids, you can begin giving your baby a little water after and between meals (check with pediatrician). It will help baby's kidneys dilute the waste products of the foods. You can start with as little as a tablespoon, and slowly increase until baby is drinking anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces of water per day. (We recommend using a weighted sippy cup like the Munchkin any angle click lock straw trainer cup) Maintain this maximum until baby is one year old.
Some pediatricians will recommend using only "distilled" water, while some will say any regular bottled is fine (not enhanced water), and many will note that tap water is actually better than bottled water depending the quality of your tap water which you can look up on the EPA website.
Most doctors say babies over six months should have 0.25 mg of fluoride a day. The Fluoride content in water is measured in ppmor parts per million. Therefore your baby should be drinking water with fluoride of 0.7ppm. There is no official recommendation from the AAP or ADA on the amount of water a baby should drink a day but many doctors suggest anywhere from 2 to 6 ounces a day for a baby 6 months and up.
Therefore, if your hometown water contains fluoride and is good quality water, then many doctors will prefer this tap water to bottled water. If you prefer to use bottled water that does not contain any fluoride, ask your doctor if they think your baby should have a fluoride supplement or not. All in all, just to be sure, I think this is a good conversation to have with your pediatrician!
Fruit juice: Many pediatricians do not recommend juice in the first year because the sweetness of it might make baby more likely to reject plain water. In addition, whole fruit has more fiber and is less likely to cause dental decay. Some exceptions might me pear or prune juice if baby is constipated. However, if baby is constipated, you can offer the baby prunes or pears over prune or pear juice. In addition, as an alternative to juice, you can try to give baby 3-5 drops of organic flax-seed oil in each serving of purees. If you do give the juice, it is often a good idea to dilute it with water to 1/3 it’s strength or less. While we don’t want baby to become constipated, large amounts of fruit juice can cause loose acidic stools, which can cause diaper rash.
Foods to avoid in the first year: No raw honey in the first year. It can contain spores that can cause botulism in babies. Nothing that is a choking hazard. Many pediatricians recommend waiting until a year to offer baby cow’s milk. At that time typically 2% cow’s milk is the recommendation.
Previously, parents were told to delay giving highly allergenic foods, such as eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, for months or years longer than other foods. However, newer studies show evidence in support of introducing these foods sooner rather than later. If the infant has no signs of allergy (including eczema) with the initial foods, additional foods can be introduced gradually, including the highly allergenic foods (eggs, peanuts and tree nuts [although not whole nuts because of choking risk], soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). While cow's milk may not be recommended until after age 12 months, yogurt and cheese can be given before age one year. New products, such as Ready.Set.Food!, have been created as a way for parents to introduce and sustain exposure to milk, eggs and peanuts, for babies starting at four months old.
Poop: Expect a change in your baby’s stool: change in color, stronger odor, bits of undigested food is normal. If baby's poop becomes loose and watery and contains mucus,
check with your pediatrician.
Preparing baby food at home — You may choose to make your own puréed baby food for a variety of reasons: Freshness, increased variety and texture, cost, avoidance of preservatives, etc. If making food fresh there is no reason to add salt or sugar. We recommend using a baby food cooker machine like the BÉABA Babycook® to assist you in preparing fruits, vegetables, meat or fish.
Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter
What to Feed Your Baby by Tanya Altmann, M.D., FAAP