Posted by: webbhouston | January 17, 2009

First foods to introduce to babies – starting solids

Last night we had pizza with my father…. Shake n Bake grabbed the pizza out of my dad’s hands. Then grabbed the glass of water out of my hand. Thankfully we were able to pry the piece of pepperoni out of his little chubby fingers before he stuffed them into his mouth. That is NOT the way to start solid foods with a baby. Just FYI.

Mike and I discussed how we are going to approach solids with this baby. It wasnt a formal discussion.. it was more of a “so I guess we should start planning on giving him avocado and hummus soon huh?” and I said “yup”.

That is how Mike and I communicate, generally we are on the same wavelength so it isnt an problem. We have done this before so there really wasnt that much to talk about this time around… but in case you havent. Here is what we did and what is recommended. Of course more than anything YOU know your own baby better than anyone on the internet does… so dont push your baby if they are not ready yet.

Watch your baby, not the calendar.

Feedings should start only after the baby has been fed from the breast (or formula) because you dont want them to drink less of that because they need it for their growth. Their bodies still need to get most of the nutrients they need from this and not from solids.  So you should nurse first, and then add some solids later to give them some taste of it. As they get older then the solids will be the bulk of the food they eat, but this is a gradual process that can take even two years. Do not expect this to happen by a child’s first birthday or soon after that.

Start off with once a day, maybe after the “lunch” nursing session. Introduce one food at a time and wait a week or so between introducing new foods. This gives you time to see if your baby has a reaction to a food and know exactly what food it is immediately. Note that they might not have a reaction with the first or second time they have it… this is why it is recommended to try one food for one week, and go from there.  If a child has a reaction to a food take note of it, it might be that the child has a sensitivity to it… or maybe they are just not ready for it. Many children arent ready for tomatoes very young but they are ok with it when they are older.

How do you know if your baby had a reaction to something that they were given?

  • they are gassy or bloated
  • they get a diaper rash
  • eczema
  • runny nose or other signs that are common with hay fever
  • diarrhea or mucusy stools
  • red ring around anus
  • vomiting
  • crankyness
  • your baby not acting like herself/himself

You know your baby better than anyone else and if you can tell that your child reacts in a way that isnt normal for them… stop giving them that food and wait until that has cleared up to introduce something else.

During this time period you might want to introduce a few sips of water if you want to give your child an option as to having other things to drink. It isnt necessary yet at all but it is possible.

A word on juice. I have a personal issue with juice. I think that it is abused and overused and it is peddled by grocery stores and companies left and right as being great for kids. Truth be told, it isnt great for kids… it isnt even necessary. Yes it is a fun thing to drink and kids that are given it get addicted to it like crack but most juices are:

a) FULL of sugar

b) have High fructose corn syrup

c) expensive

d) offer very little nutritional value

e) are awful to kid’s teeth

There really is no reason to give kids juice.  If you really have the urge to give your kids juice than buy some oranges and make it yourself. that way you know that your kids arent getting some crap in a can. Even the ones that say they have less sugar and are “fortified” with vitamins and minerals or what ever they claim are mostly unhealthy.

Most parents are told to start off with rice cereal.

First thing I want to say about rice cereal is that the whole “putting cereal in the bottle” along with the formula or breastmilk is an antiquated and dangerous idea.  Pediatricians and health organizations are against doing this at all, eventhough you still hear of some well meaning mothers and grandmothers suggesting that parents do this to “help the baby sleep longer”… which has also been proven to not work.

After doing careful research on the subject of infant solids we never gave our kids rice cereal as their first foods for many reasons. To begin with many rice cereals have soy oil, lecithin, wheat, and preservatives in them. Things that my baby doesnt need and that are common allergens. Babies do not need allergens in their system if they can help it.

Rice cereal also is pretty much empty calories. It has some vitamins in it but it is so minimal and not worth it. If you want your kid to get those vitamins and minerals feed them some fresh fruits and veggies.

So apart from being useless, containing allergens, and lets not mention that it tastes gross…. rice cereal does not get my golden seal of approval for something to start kids with as their first solids.

So what do you start with?

It depends what is normal in your family… a baby doesnt really need a special diet or special food bought for them. As long as you are careful and watch your baby’s cues the baby can eat the same, or similar things to what you eat.

We eat a lot of mexican food… so we started Kate off with homemade guacamole. It has many nutrients and good fats in it… as well as it is easy to make and we had it on hand. We obviously left out the onions and tomatoes, we just started off with avocadoes smushed with a fork until they were at a texture that the kiddo would like. If that worked then we added a little lime juice for flavor a week or so later.

Of course a staple are bananas, with a small spoon I scraped bananas up and fed them to her.

She was a huge fan of sweet potatoes so we steamed some and fed them to her plain. We gave her plain hummus with olive oil and she became a fan. Huge fan. Still is… hummus is full of protein and is a great legume. Speaking of legumes lentils are a big things for her too… the iron those have in it really make sure that we dont worry about iron supplementation, which many doctors try to push after around 6 months or so… but that I really dont feel is necessary for most kids at all.

Well we started with that… and the list grew from there… she soon had peas, carrots, apples, pears, and other fruits and veggies.

At around 10-11 months old we introduced citrus, which she loved… but it was a little strong for her yet. We reintroduced it around 16 months and she was fine. She loves “ornages”.

At around 18 months berry season was in peak here in Houston so we got a lot of berries at the farmer’s market. This led to Kate loving blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. We introduced them slowly and she did great with them. They are some of her favorite foods. Around this time tomatoes were also introduced and she is hooked on them.

We use only fresh or dried fruits and veggies, we have never fed her canned in syrups or anything like that.  The dried fruits and veggies that we use are from Just Tomatoes or Tierra Farm because they are just dried and have no sulfites or salt, or anything else added to them.

We have never felt the need to purchase “special” kids dishes and wenever have to stop at McDonalds to get her french fries because she doesnt eat anything else. Apart from the fact that she has never had McDonalds… she eats everything.  Sure there are days where she isnt in the mood to eat as much as others or where she doesnt want to eat a certain food… but she is a great eater. She eats salad and broccoli. She loves corn and carrots. Raw carrots are a favorite snack for her. She love grapes and all fruits. She even eats olives… which I find digusting personally.

As soon as we started feeding her tomatoes we also started letting her try salsa that was mildly spicy. She did great with it and she actually eats salsa pretty well now. She loves dipping so salsa is fun for her even if it is really spicy sometimes for her.  She will tell us that it is “hot” and sign it… but keep eating it while drinking water along with it.

I dont have to make a special dinner or lunch for her, she eats what we eat.  Of course we make sure that she has varied meals and she doesnt get junk food at all.  We do let her eat pie and other baked goods but most of them are homemade. SHe wanted cookies last weekend so we made homamade cookies and she helped.

My kiddos seems to really love solid foods, Calvin is trying to eat my sandwich as we speak and prying the food from her little chubby fingers is getting harder and harder… but if your child doesnt respond to solids immediately that is ok. They might not be ready. It really isnt important until they get older than a year old anyways… if they dont like all foods it’s ok too. Try them again later.  Kids make faces at all new foods, it is normal.. just keep trying and keep offering. Offer things that you dont even think that they will like. You never know… Kate has surprised us. She eats pickles and lemons… she even eats onions… we dont limit what she eats as long as it is not dairy.  Offer your kids everything and read their cues.

Solids are fun but most parents are at a rush to start solids with their kids because they want those cute pictures of the messy babies for their scrapbook… well have a little patience. Our babies are only little for a short time, let them enjoy being little… soon enough you will miss that.


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