To promote toddler health, I want to introduce you to 5 tips for introducing your baby to solid foods.
When I was about to start my son on solid foods, my doctor lovingly but matter-of-factly told me that toddlers are “crappy” eaters.
This doctor told me to stay positive, offer healthy options, but remain understanding of the fact that my baby was not going to like everything I offered him, and he’d be hesitant and even fearful of some flavors and textures at first.
She also offered me some helpful tips and tricks to get my son on board with leaving his bottle behind and embracing various kinds of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
5 Tips for Introducing Your Baby to Solid Foods
If you are starting to wean your baby off their bottle and start them on solids, read on to learn about five helpful tips to ensure success right from the beginning.
Make Your Own
My son was served jarred and squeeze-pouch baby food, and also homemade baby food. Hands down, he always preferred the latter option.
I think he liked the homemade option better because it tasted more fresh and pure, not to mention more flavorful. While it did obviously take more time to make than simply opening a jar, I felt good about serving him something organic and healthy.
While some solids can be mashed, like bananas and avocado, I found it most helpful to have a baby food maker on hand. (I have a whole guide dedicated to finding a baby food maker, if you’re interested).
So, before you introduce your baby to solid foods, I think in order to give them a positive experience with food, making your own will make their taste buds most happy.
Follow the 4 Day Wait Rule
I was a nervous wreck when introducing new foods to my son, mainly because I know that many children have allergies. In order to gain peace of mind and keep track of his reactions to solids, I followed the 4 day rule.
This means that when you offer your child something new, and they consume it, you should not serve them any other new foods for several days. This will help you observe irritable behavior, difficulty breathing, loose stools, or random rashes that pop up.
When you give your baby too many new foods at once, you won’t be able to keep track of their progress with it.
Offer Basics First, Then Mix It Up
A general rule of thumb that you want to follow is to offer your baby several basic, but favorite foods, first. Try giving them banana, sweet potatoes, avocado, or pear. These foods have a low allergy rate, and they are not overly flavorful where they would shock your baby’s senses.
Once you follow the 4 day rule and have introduced your child to a variety of basics, consider mixing things up a bit. Using your baby food maker, combine some of your baby’s favorites like sweet potatoes and apples (with just a pinch of cinnamon), or spinach, pear, and peas.
I found it was helpful to introduce veggies to my son first, since they take a little more time and effort to get a baby to enjoy them. Once I felt he had a solid and healthy base and taste for veggies, I offered him sweeter foods like fruits.
Then, by the time I was ready to mix the foods together; he recognized and accepted both food groups.
Age is Just a Number
I strongly believe that every baby shows readiness at different ages and stages when it comes to starting solid food. Some babies will need to stay on a bottle longer, while others show interest and readiness much earlier than recommended by your pediatrician.
My son happened to be one of these babies. He was very strong and developmentally advanced, and I noticed that he started to reach out to the foods that I was eating at the dinner table. He used his jaw to mash, and his tongue to manipulate the food placement, allowing him to process the food and he could swallow it with ease.
Some other signs of readiness to start solid food may include your baby being able to sit up proficiently without support, seems hungry even after consuming their daily milk allowance (up to 32 ounces), and starts to grasp spoons and other small objects with ease. It is recommended that your baby remain on milk until six months of age, because most children’s digestive systems aren’t ready to handle solids, but my son happened to be ready at four months.
While I didn’t know what was going on internally with his digestive track; I felt confident with the introduction since I was observing all of these “readiness” behaviors.
Offer Single-Grain Cereals
Grains are just as important to introduce as vegetables and fruits. They are high in iron and babies tend to lose a lot of iron that has been stored up in their bodies around 9 months of age.
When possible, always go for the organic option and consider starting with brown rice, rather than white rice cereal. You can combine a teaspoon of cereal with four to five teaspoons of milk or formula and thicken it up according to your baby’s texture preferences after they get used to swallowing it initially.
Starting your baby on solid food can be a tricky thing. It is very important you establish a positive relationship with food right from the get-go.
The five tips above have helped my son develop a love for eating and have helped introduce him to a variety of foods. Keep in mind that some days (or weeks for that matter) will be better than others, and your baby is not going to eat everything you offer them.
The best thing to do is keep trying and keep fostering a healthy relationship with food.
Meet My Guest Writer Today
Kate Trout is the mama behind Maternity Glow, a blog offering tips & tricks to new and expecting moms. You can check out her recent work on 51 healthy pregnancy snacks, and how to pick out a baby carrier.