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A nervous parent's guide to starting your baby on solid foods
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Take the Quiz: How Do I Know If my Baby is Ready to Start Solids?

First answer the following questions:

  1. Can your baby hold his head up and sit up on his own or with little assistance?
  2. Has he/she doubled his/her birth weight?
  3. Does he/she put things in his/her mouth?
  4. Does he/she open his/her mouth when you bring him/her food?
  5. Is she/he interested in what you eat?
  6. Does he/she have control of his/her tongue and does he/she not automatically push the food out?
Baby Starting Solids
Starting Solids: Is your baby ready?

If you answered YES to most of the questions: Congratulations, your baby is ready to start eating solids! Instead of being guided by the chronological age of your baby, be guided by the developmental patterns and the abilities that he is demonstrating. The official recommendation of the World Health Organization as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics is to give breast milk exclusively and offer complementary foods from 6 months of age.

It is important that you do not start too late, nor too early. Starting complementary foods before 4 months of age can increase the risk of obesity, food allergies, as well as stomach problems. The gastrointestinal system of the baby at 4 months is still too immature to tolerate other foods, apart from breast milk. Remember that breast milk is very easy to digest and offers the best nutrition for your baby. For this reason it is recommended to wait for the introduction of solids until 6 months of age.

First of all, your baby needs to have control of his neck and head to hold himself up and sit up almost unassisted. It can be very risky and even cause choking, feeding him lying down or in the car seat if he still does not show control of his head. Your baby should also show interest in food, as well as stop sticking out her tongue, something known as the extrusion reflex. If you introduce solids prematurely, you will have noticed that it spits them out. This is because the extrusion reflection still remains. The mouth extrusion reflex is an automatic amount that allows babies to expel any food that is not liquid from their mouth. Usually, this reflex disappears at 5-6 months, precisely coinciding with the start of complementary feeding.

Now, if you start too late, after 7-8 months you also put yourself at risk for nutritional problems such as anemia, problems with textures and the risk of developing food allergies. One study found an association between introducing gluten after 6 months and developing celiac disease. Oat cereal, which contains gluten, is fortified with iron and for this reason is recommended as a first meal. However, it is not the only source of iron in babies - protein, beans, lentils, and eggs can also be good options to include.

How Do I Start Introducing Solids?

  1. Start giving 1 solids-feeding a day, preferably in the morning as babies are more alert.
  2. Give 1 food at a time and present it for 3 days to evaluate any allergies or intolerances. You can slowly add mixed foods and play with the flavor combinations, since you know that it does not cause any intolerance. You can see the first foods that I recommend here.
  3. If you start with the traditional method, start with a runny consistency. You will gradually change it to semi-watery and crushed. By 8-10 months you will already be including table food with varied textures.
  4. Offer small amounts - DO NOT expect your baby to eat a lot in these first few weeks. Remember your baby is beginning to experiment with food.
  5. Don't worry if your baby spits up food or makes faces, it's normal at first.
  6. Continue to offer breast milk or formula. Remember that solids are only to COMPLEMENT and not SUPPLEMENT your baby's nutrition.
Baby starting solids baby led-weaning
Baby led-weaning

Finally, have fun and start exploring new flavors, textures, colors, scents, and more! This stage marks the beginning of your baby's healthy and positive relationship with food. If you want to know what accessories can help you in this process of introducing your baby to solids, you can click here so you can see what I always recommend to my Moms at Nutrichicos.

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