There are certain milestones during the first year of our baby’s life that pulls at our heartstrings. Their first smile, their first step, and their first word. There are others transitions that, although equally memorable, can be somewhat overwhelming and fearful. For many parents, transitioning their little one from milk to solids can lead to a lot of uncertainty and stress. Many parents feel overwhelmed deciding when the right time is for solids and what foods to first feed your little one. And of course, there is the fear of food allergies as well. So, to make it easy, I have taken the most common questions I get as a pediatrician about transitioning your infant from milk to solids, and have simplified my answers into “The 3 T’s” to successfully transition your baby to solids.
Timing. When is the right time to consider introduce solids into your infants diet? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that formula or breast milk be the primary source of nutrition until 6 months of age. However the decision of starting to introduce solids into your child’s diet depends upon where he or she is developmentally. There are definitely certain cues a parent can use to help them determine whether their baby is ready for solids. Head control is one of the most important indicators. You baby must be able to sit up in a highchair, holding their head up straight without support or help. This usually occurs around 6 months of age, but every baby is different. Another clue is your child’s interest in food, and actively opening their mouth. You want your baby to show curiouslty or interest in foods. You never want to force a baby to eat, as it can lead to a negative emotion towards food. Generally, you also want your baby to double his or her birth weight before trying to introduce solids, usually around 13-15 pounds.
Tactic. How do I start to introduce them to solids? Don’t be disappointed if their first attempt at solids doesn’t exactly end up in their stomach. It may take many tries before you see them successfully swallow their first bite of butternut squash. Using a long handled colorful spoon is helpful to peak their interest. Allow them to explore and play with the utensils. Only place a small amount onto the spoon and see how they respond. If they resist, do not force it! Just try again another time.
Taste. What fruit or vegetable should I start with first? Truth be told, it really doesn’t matter! You want to make sure to start with a single fruit or vegetable and stick with it until he or she starts to get the hang of it. Once they are able to successfully eat a jar of puree, they you can explore other tastes and textures. I would recommend introducing one type of food at a time to prevent any confusion if there is a reaction. Many parents worry about food allergies and whether exposing them earlier on can lead to reactions. This has been proven to be untrue. If serve food allergies run in the family, it is important to create a plan with your pediatrician. If your baby experiences vomiting or rash after eating, it is important to have him or her evaluated by their pediatrician.
Now that you are equipped with my 3 T’s, I want to discuss some more specific and common questions I get about the transition to solids.
Do you recommend making your own food for your child? I think it’s wonderful if you are able to make your child’s food. It is a really great way to play with flavor and ensure high quality of the fruits and vegetables you are using. I think it is important that if you are making your own baby food, you utilize the right products to ensure a safe consistency of the puree. Please make sure there are no large chunks that can serve as a choking hazard. If there are seeds in the fruits and vegetables you are using, please make sure to remove them prior to feeding. There are some incredible products out there that I would recommend. Baby Brezza makes a food processor that actually cooks and blends food in one step. If you are on the go, Dr. Brown’s makes a portable food masher that is great to bring to restaurants, and to keep in your diaper bag.
Once I start to introduce solids to my baby, should I decrease the amount of formula or milk I am feeding my baby? Great question. In the beginning, no. Your child’s primary source of nutrients should still come from breast milk or formula. As your child becomes a more successful eater, you can slowly start to decrease the amount of formula or milk. By 8-9 months, your baby should be eating solids 3 times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With bottles in between.
Should I expect my babies poop to change color and constancy once starting solids? Yes it will. Typically, the stool will become more solid and you might to start see change in color depending on what type of foods you are feeding them. If your baby is experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or rash with certain solids, it is important to have him or her evaluated by a pediatrician.
Overall, the best advice I can give you is to have fun with it and make it an enjoyable experience for your baby! I hope this helps with your journey!
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