It seems like you just brought your new baby home from the hospital and now it is already time to start considering solid foods. Chances are you have already been coached on what to feed or what not to feed in the very beginning but there are still bound to be many things you are unprepared for or have questions about. If you are a new parent then this will be your first encounter with offering a baby solid foods. You are probably a little bit nervous and apprehensive but this is perfectly normal. Many parents fear that their baby will choke or become ill as a result of eating solid foods and so they put it off for as long as possible. If your baby is between the ages of 4 and 6 months he/she is probably quite ready to begin eating solid foods.
My Baby Is so Hungry!
This is the first sign that it is time for solid foods. Babies go through growth spurts that do cause them to want to eat more frequently but if you notice that your baby has an insatiable appetite then you may want to consider offering something more than formula or breast milk. The best part of this is that your baby will probably start sleeping through the night once he/she begins eating solid foods and for many moms that is a welcome change. Start with something really simple like just a bit of rice cereal mixed with formula or breast milk. Please avoid giving your baby oatmeal right off the bat as this can and almost always will cause constipation. Rice cereal seems to be the best choice in first cereal for baby. It is usually best to start by offering a very small amount of cereal mixed with formula or breast milk in your baby’s bottle. You will need to enlarge the hole in the nipple slightly to allow the cereal to pass. Make sure your baby is sitting upright when you feed him/her to avoid choking.
Other Signs Your Baby Is Ready for Solid Foods
Once your baby becomes able to hold his/her head up and show a good amount of control then it is probably the right time to start him/her on solid foods. In addition, if your baby seems to be just a bit too interested in your hamburger then he/she is probably ready for something besides the liquid diet he or she has been eating. Your baby may seem cranky more than usual and this could very well be from hunger. Formula or breast milk digests pretty fast so if your baby is still hungry after drinking a bottle then you might want to offer something else. Always check with your baby’s doctor before beginning solid foods to see if there is anything he/she prefers as a first food.
Your Baby Has No Table Manners
Make sure you are prepared for quite a mess when solid foods are first introduced and by all means have a camera ready. Your baby will do everything from blow raspberries with his/her food to outright spitting it at you so be prepared for anything. Make sure you have all the proper gear such as bibs and baby towels handy. You may also want to do the feedings in an area that is not carpeted and the floor is going to be yet another landing spot for whatever you are feeding your baby. Some parents opt to take baby out onto the patio or porch when feeding if the weather permits it. This makes clean up a lot easier!
Baby’s Can Be Picky
You will also want to be ready for your baby to rebel. If you have a picky eater on your hands then this is going to become evident very quickly. For example, some babies cannot stand any of the meat or vegetable variations of baby food and will only eat the fruit. Obviously, this is unhealthy and unacceptable. You will have to be crafty and find ways to trick your baby into eating a well balanced diet. Granted there may be some things you will never be able to get past your baby but you might try feeding one bite of fruit and then slipping in a random bite of lamb or chicken. You can also spoon a small amount of something your baby doesn’t like and then dip the spoon in fruit and try feeding like this. The key is not to give up. Be consistent in offering your baby all of the foods he/she does not seem to enjoy as much. You may get lucky and wind up with a baby who will eat anything you offer or you may wind up with the world’s pickiest eater.
After the First Teeth
As soon as your baby cuts teeth then you can start giving him/her small finger foods like cherios or even baby biscuits. Babies love to gnaw on baby biscuits but remember these will also be quite messy so take care. Eventually you can begin to eliminate jarred baby food in favor of things like mac and cheese and other soft foods that your baby can pick up and eat. Remember that even though babies lack all of the coordination needed to feed themselves they love trying. Do not discourage your baby from trying to feed him/herself. Rather, find a place that you are comfortable allowing this. Again, placing the high chair on the patio or porch and sitting with your baby is a great idea. If that is not an option then you can place the high chair in the middle of the kitchen floor. This will make clean up a bit easier.
Stay away from feeding your baby a lot of foods that are known to cause gas such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage. You will also want to be careful about the foods that you eat because some of them may be too spicy for your baby. You may have a toddler who begs for whatever you are eating but if it is a Jamaican meat patty, don’t give in! Eventually feeding your baby solid foods will become easier and over time your baby’s eating habits will develop nicely as long as you continue to be diligent in offering a nice variety of foods.