The Scoop on Baby Food (Part 1)
When your baby suddenly reaches anywhere between 4-6 months old, the pediatrician likely mentions that now is the time to start introducing solids, and then sends you on your way. But how do you know exactly when to start? Is it four months? Or is it six months?
Here is a list of signs that your baby might be ready to start eating solid foods:
· Sitting with minimal assistance
· Holding his head up
· Closing her mouth around a spoon
· No longer reflexively pushing things out of his mouth with his tongue
· Watching others eat
· Putting things in her mouth
So now that you are finally into a routine with breastmilk or formula, a whole new curveball is being thrown at you! Do you go out and buy jars of Gerber green beans and pears? Do you buy a baby food maker and start pureeing steamed butternut squash and apples at home? Do you try out baby-led weaning and give your baby a chicken drumstick and omelet strip? The options are endless!
And the verdict is: ALL METHODS OF INTRODUCING SOLIDS ARE CORRECT!
Let’s take a moment to talk about the differences between traditional feeding and baby-led weaning. When we refer to traditional feeding, we are typically talking about pureed baby foods and spoon feeding. On the other hand, baby-led weaning is a way of introducing solid foods beginning with whole, manageable pieces. Advocates of baby-led weaning mention some of the benefits, including:
· Teaching babies how to feed themselves
· Helping babies develop motor skills
· Giving babies control over how much food they want and if they want it
Many parents are hesitant to give their baby a banana spear or a strip of steak for fear of chocking. While research shows that baby-led weaning is not actually linked to a higher incidence of choking, many parents still feel more comfortable sticking to the puree texture. That is just fine!
I encourage the families I work with to find the right balance for them. This could mean that you give a combination of store-bought purees and homemade ones. This could also mean that you give a strip of avocado to explore while also offering your baby mashed avocado on a spoon. Ultimately, the goal is to introduce a variety of different foods and flavors! Also, remember the importance of sitting down together as a family for meals and modeling the process of eating for your baby. This is truly the key to success when introducing solids!
Stay tuned for next month’s post all about the controversy over heavy metals in processed baby food!