Starting solids can be a nerve-wracking time for new parents. How much should your baby eat? What should your baby eat? Exactly how much food on the ceiling is normal post-mealtime? While you may have more questions than answers right now, the good news is that it’s not hard to make mealtime go smoothly. Here’s how to get started.
WHEN TO START YOUR BABY ON SOLIDS
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends starting your baby on solids at six months of age at the earliest. That’s because this is the age when most babies are able to physically eat (without that tricky tongue-thrust reflex pushing all the food out) as well as digest food other than breast milk or formula. At six months, the digestive system is ready for solid options. As that six month date approaches, start to prep! Invest in some unbreakable plates and utensils, set up the high chair, and get ready for the fun to begin.
SIGNS YOUR BABY IS READY FOR STARTING SOLIDS
First things first, your baby should be able to hold his or her neck up and sit without support. You should also see your baby making chewing motions―that’s because the tongue develops along with the digestive system, so when one is ready, the other usually is too. It’s especially important to look for signs of interest in food. This could include your baby watching your own meals with an eagle eye or even reaching to grab food with his or her hands. (And kiss those days of not having to share all your snacks good-bye!)
HOW MUCH TO FEED YOUR BABY
Don’t be surprised if your marathon nurser only seems to swallow a couple mouthfuls of solid food. When they first start eating solids, your baby will likely only eat a teaspoon to a tablespoon or two of food―but don’t worry, it will increase quickly. The WHO recommends feeding infants between 6-8 months two to three meals a day, then increasing to three to four meals a day for babies from 9-24 months (adding snacks at 12 months). Need to know more about how much a six-month-old baby should eat? Read our article here.
FIRST FOODS TO FEED YOUR BABY
So you know when and how much when it comes to starting solids―now just what exactly should you be putting on your newbie eater’s plate? You may have heard from grandma that it’s important to only feed baby one new food at a time (sometimes for weeks at a time). Well, no offense to grandma, but unless you have a family history of food allergies, it can actually be better to mix it up. (Think about it: Would you like eating only sweet potatoes for a month?) Exposing your baby to a variety of foods, textures, and spices is a great way to get them started on developing a broad palate. Plus, it’s a lot more exciting for you both! Of course, more meal variety means more meal prep. Raised Real delivers baby-ready meals with healthy fats and spices for early flavor learning right to your door to make starting solids easy.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
You’ve got the basics down. The good news is that starting solids should be fun. So take the pressure off. Carve out plenty of time for meals (no one likes to rush a good meal), and prepare for things to get a little messy. Try purees, dabble in baby-led weaning (going straight to finger foods), or do something in between that works for you and your family. Remember that this is a brand new skill for your baby, and just like walking, talking, and learning to take a million selfies when they steal your phone, it will take time to get it down pat. In the meantime, enjoy the process and keep mealtime positive. Have concerns? It’s never a bad idea to speak to your pediatrician before beginning to feed your baby solids.