First of all, let me start by saying this is completely anecdotal and a log of what we are doing with our family. I thought I would take the opportunity to write about it since I have the unique opportunity to share what is going on with us as we introduce Angelika to solid food. This is not medical advice, or a suggestion to follow to the letter. Each family has to do what is right for them. Your instincts and your care team are the best guide for your child.
As with many parents, our style of parenting evolves as we learn with each child. With Ysabella (born 01-2005), when our doctor told us we could try giving her oatmeal at six months old, we gave her oatmeal. Not baby cereal oatmeal watered down with water…oatmeal like the breakfast food we ate. As Bruss says, “That was an interesting diaper.” After that, we figured out she needed baby cereal and baby jar food…and that made her spit up like crazy. Spit up in and of itself is not a bad thing if that is “normal” for your child. However, Ysabella was never one to spit up, so we stopped the baby food, and followed our instincts that were telling us she was not ready quite yet.
The next time we tried to feed her solid food was when she was about eleven months old. We waited for her to show interest, and coincidentally, that’s when she cut her first tooth. This time it went much better. We gave her our table food, ground up in a food mill and mixed with a little breast milk to help her digest it. It went great! So we moved forward with the table food and that was our first kiddo into solids.
Brussito (born 09-2007) had a separate set of issues since I knew he had food sensitivities. At the time, I knew he was sensitive to wheat and peanuts. He started showing an interest in food around eight months old. I did not even try the prepared baby foods since I did not want to risk any cross-contamination. We made all our own purees and mixed them with rice cereal and breast milk to start with…second child started on the weaning process.
Bryan (born 07-2009) is our best eater. His interest in food started around seven months old. We delayed him a couple of weeks since I was going out of town and I didn’t want to start solids before I left just in case he decided that he was all set and done with nursing. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. He is still nursing once a day. (Read here about our Journey into Tandem Nursing.)
He had a funny habit of smelling something before putting it in his mouth. Since I had found a good system for making food for Bruss, I implemented it again for Bryan. I feel much better knowing what is in the food I am giving my kiddos – pure fruits and veggies! Once food passed the smell test, he would stick his tongue on it, and if it passed stage two, he ate the whole bowl of food, and then a second, and usually a third. There is very little this kiddo won’t eat even to this day. Now our third child well was well on the way to weaning.
Angelika (born 10-2011) is now eight months old. She has been teething since she was three months old (No teeth yet though! Just drool and mouthing everything!); and has been tracking and reaching for food since she was about five months old. As a believer in the La Leche League teaching of waiting until your child can sit by themselves and use a pincer grip to pick up their food (click here), I waited for these additional signs of readiness.
I was waiting for these signs because I truly want to start with solids, meaning I am not feeding her purees mixed with baby cereal. I have decided that there are too many ingredients there that I can’t pronounce and it’s not worth putting any chemicals in her system. She had an unmedicated home birth, we have treated her fevers with lots of skin-to-skin and breast milk…and after all the food issues we have had with Ysabella and Brussito, I really want to make a good effort to have a chemical-free, additive-free child.
When I give Angelika food, she gets small pieces that she can pick up and put in her hands. The potatoes are baked soft so they are squishy, and doled out in smaller pieces – imagine the size of a pea. It’s messy, and so far so good – no choking incidences.
I also want to mention that it definitely not a serving of food like I give our older children…she gets maybe 10 little pieces, 2-3 at a time, to squish around and play with while we eat our meal. This is an “introduction” – if any of it makes it into her mouth – great! Angelika is breastfed fairly regularly and breastmilk is still her main source of nutrition. She started sitting by herself on May 3rd, so the following day I tried a little banana at breakfast, and separately for lunch, a little sweet potato.
She liked it and there was no rash – that was a promising sign she might be ready. Until she got constipated…our child who was a regular mover of her bowels got stopped up. For four days. We went to our trusty chiropractor and he checked her, did a little adjustment for her bowels…four days. I stopped solids after day 2 of no stools. I have never been so happy to see that diaper full of baby poo!
So we waited another week. And the pressure starts…”shouldn’t she be eating solids now?” “She looks like she’s hungry. Do you want me to feed her?” “Mommy, can I feed the baby?” Yes, even our children got in on the peer pressure. After a few days of bowels moving as expected, we tried solids again. Hello to another round of constipation. So we went back to our chiropractor, a little adjustment; it was three days this time. We stopped solids again.
Now we have had another few days of regular stools, despite letting her gnaw on a hard roll Friday night and potatoes on Sunday. We gave her sweet potato and yam for dinner yesterday, now we wait and see. Press-time update: she pooped this morning! So we try another little bit today, probably a few bites at lunch and a few bites at dinner.
In the meantime, I go back to my baby cookbook and re-read the recipes I like and mark some new ones to try. I follow the food introduction schedule outlined in Annabel Karmel’s Super Foods for Babies and Children. It has great recipes for first foods, a meal schedule to help develop baby’s palate, and great recipes our older children enjoy as well.
You can also check out La Leche League’s guide for starting solids here.
What was your baby’s first solid food? Any tips to share in regards to introducing solids?
Signs for food readiness
Dr. Ross, DC
First Foods Recommendations
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