It was at Zidaan's 5 months appointment that we were sent home with a blessing from our pediatrician to go forth and “start solids.” Yay, fun!
You’ll go home and realize that you have NO idea what the hell you’re doing. I mean, shouldn’t the doctor give you an instruction manual — or something!? What do I feed the baby? What's the best first food?
The bad news is… there is no official manual for this endeavor. The good news is, it doesn’t really matter! There are tons of ways to start solids with your baby!
Ebad and I came home clueless. I googled best first food for baby and it said "applesauce" or "baby oatmeal cereal". We decided to give him oatmeal cereal. I mixed some cereal with my breastmilk and Zidaan loved it! What we didn't take into account or think of was how tough of a time the little guy would have with a spoon. All babies know how to do at this point is a sucking motion in order to get food. Eating with a spoon is a completely different ordeal altogether.
Below are Z's pics eating solids for the first time:
His face on the left cracks me up. Needless to say, Z loved his cereal! We then proceeded to buy ready-made baby foods. My goal was to have him taste all different kinds of flavors. We tried apple, banana, spinach, peas, pears, sweet potato and squash. Zidaan loved everything EXCEPT peas. His face while eating peas was nothing short of hilarious. It was pure disgust.
All in all, here are my thoughts on what to think about when starting your little one on solids:
The Right Time To Start: There's no right time in my opinion. Anything between 4.5 months to 6 months is okay, it will depend on your baby. I could tell Zidaan was ready for solids around 5 months because of his interest in what we ate around him. Watching his little mouth open every time I took a bite of something was the cutest! Learn your baby’s signals and signs. Babies will lean toward food and open their mouths. They need to be fully sitting unassisted and capable of swallowing while breathing. When ready to eat, they'll stop thrusting their tongue against a spoon or food when it is offered.
These are general rules of thumb; of course, there are always exceptions. If you started early or want to wait a little longer (but not too long), it’s all good. Pediatricians are all over the board on this as well – some will recommend starting solids as soon as four months, especially the old-timers and some may be strict on waiting till 6 months.
Before the First Bite: Go through your family history. Are there food allergies anywhere along the lines? If so, table those foods for much later.
Know what a food reaction, allergy or sensitivity looks like: Go slowly with introducing foods. Every baby will have an individual response to each food. Introduce new foods one at a time and continue to feed that same food for a day or two to rule out the chance of a reaction. Signs of intolerance are redness around the mouth, coughing, vomiting, abdominal bloating, irregular gas, irritability and abnormal crankiness, over-activity, change in sleep, constipation or diarrhea, nasal congestion and/or eczema-type skin irritation anywhere on the body. A reaction can include one or many of these symptoms, and the food should be avoided until the gut is stronger and can be tested again.
Now let’s talk food options and reasons behind them. Remember that food before one is only for fun; however, you do not want to give food as a filler. Making nutritious choices goes far beyond keeping baby healthy, but it can increase brain health, boost the immune system, encourage an optimal nervous system, build a healthy gut, and provide the foundation of a lifetime of healthy food choices.
Preparing the Food: Soft foods such as avocados, bananas, pears, etc can be given raw and mashed with your fork. Vegetables should be cooked (preferably steamed) and mashed, mixed with breastmilk or water to aid in digestion. Meats should be cooked and pureed before served.
Did I always give Zidaan homecooked meals? No. In the beginning, he had a lot of pre-made store-bought baby food. It was easy to buy a whole bunch so he could try all the different flavors. Buuuuuuut, I bought the Baby Bullet about 2 months ago and I LOVE IT! Definitely a must have! It even comes with little storage boxes to store the food in. It's amazing! Linked here.
After Zidaan trying different foods from 5 - 6 months, I switched my stance to complete Baby-led weaning. This is my best advice:
Skip the spoon and let baby feed himself. In baby-led weaning, parents wait until the baby can hold food and feed himself (of course, it’s really important not to give anything the baby could choke on, and to closely supervise all meals and snacks). Doing things this way has three advantages: It puts off feeding until the baby is really ready (as opposed to when the parents are ready). It puts the baby in charge of how much he eats! It also brings baby to the table and encourages family meals! We give Z anything and everything we eat throughout the day and place it in front of him on his highchair.
Zidaan is now 10 months and basically eating everything! He has three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, he will eat a puree of fresh fruits, lunch varies from rice, vegetables, lentils and dinner is comprised of whatever we're eating. In between meals and in the morning and before bed, he has a bottle of milk.
I do let him have a few snacks and crackers throughout the day. He loves the Happy Baby Organic Baby Puffs, Happy Baby Gentle Teethers and Gerber Graduates Yoghurt Melts.
First foods are so much fun! It's the first extension to their little growing personality. I hope Zidaan doesn't turn into a picky eater. It's been too easy thus far.