On Solid Food

It's been two months since we got the A-OK go-ahead from Elliott's doctor to start solids. She gave the standard advice of starting between 4-6 months with rice cereal, vegetable purees, and fruit purees, with new foods spaced out at least 4 days to watch for allergic reactions. She did emphasize however, "Food before one is just for fun"- Elliott's main nutrition still comes from nursing, the food is just to get used to tastes, textures, and chewing.

There are so many opinions on when to start babies on food and what to start with. This has been probably the most confusing parenting/baby care issue I've had to figure out yet, because all the opinions seem to make sense. I knew I didn't want to start solids at 4 months- we had a vacation planned when he turned 5 months, and I didn't want to deal with toting food for him along. I also thought 4 months was too early. Some studies show early introduction of foods could cause allergies, although the most recent AAP recommendations admit the studies aren't conclusive. With the history of food & environmental allergies in our families, I figured I couldn't be too careful. Elliott will be six months this weekend.

And then, what to start with? Some say rice cereal, because it's bland and soupy. Others say absolutely not rice cereal, because it's a refined white flour, which Americans eat too much of already. Breastfeeding sites often mentioned pureed meat as a first food. The most common foods I read about actual moms starting their babies on were banana, avocado, and sweet potato. I decided against banana as a first food, because Josh is allergic, the above-mentioned inconclusive studies notwithstanding. So, avocado it was.

The readiness signs were there: sitting well, a crazy interest in whatever was on the table, the ability to communicate when he is full, putting everything in his mouth.

"Are you ready?" I asked him

"I'm ready, Mom!" he answered

Casey is a fan of this new experiment, as demonstrated by the dog nose at the bottom of the photo:

I'm interested in the idea of baby-led weaning (but I'm not sure if I'll follow it 100%), so I want to offer chunks of food for him to try to feed himself in addition to, or instead of, purees. However, chunks of soft avocado are slippery to pick up for a baby still working on fine motor skills. He doesn't seem to mind the spoon.

Whether we feed pieces of food or purees- this is going to be a messy, messy venture!

* Since these photos were taken, he's munched on mango and cantaloupe as well. He loves to chew pieces of food! Food before one IS fun! Also, it's requiring a lot more baths.

Fun baby food resources:
Wholesome Baby Food
Real Baby, Real Food
Adventures in Solid Food
More on Baby-Led Solids Introduction (and here and Wikipedia) and a "How-To" PDF


Jes said...

How exactly does he eat the stuff? pick it up with his fingers? I've been too scared to try chunks, but those chunks on Elliot's tray look big. I've just been mushing everything up and spoon feeding him myself. So how exactly does this chunked food thing work when they are this young?

Joanna said...

Jes - Check out the links I added. The basic theory is, if Baby's feeding himself, he'll eat the amount he actually wants/needs, and he'll learn to chew different textures rather than just sucking off a spoon. When's he's developmentally able to get the food to his mouth, he's also developmentally able to eat it. You give him big pieces he can pick up and get into his mouth- not small pieces he can't pick up well or could choke on.

Incidentally, I've discovered that wedges of avocado, using the whole length of the fruit, with the skin still on, are perfect to give him- easy to pick up, soft to eat.


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