I have to make a confession but when it comes to feeding my children I have been known to go completely batty. It is one of the common factors between me, my clients and all my mom friends and that is that being totally obsessed with the amount of weight our babies are gaining and how much food they are consuming. It is some crazy instinctual thing and I cannot tell you the number of hours I have stressed over trying to figure out how many ounces were coming out of each boob, how many table spoons of rice cereal I think were consumed, whether I packed in enough fruits and vegetables into a day and trying to justify a hot dog as qualifying as legitimate meat.
You name it, I’ve worried about it. While I am certainly more relaxed with my second it is still very top of mind on a daily basis and last night I found myself and baby Wells once again covered in oatmeal and bananas and JR laughing at me because I was opening my mouth so wide to try and encourage Wells to do so that I looked like a mad woman! I also know how common this is and how hard it is to find concrete information on how much one should feed ones baby.
I have pulled together some direction that I hope you will find helpful in trying to navigate the crazy (but fun) process of introducing solids into your wee one’s life.
Before you dive in and start avidly taking notes I do want to highlight however that every child is different. It is so important the food doesn’t become either a chore or a miserable experience. Eating should be a time of bonding, of family and nourishment and from the very start seen as a positive experience.
So if you and your baby aren’t enjoying it don’t be afraid to switch things up and change them so they work for you. For example, maybe your baby is too fussy at certain times of the day to start learning how to eat solids so then don’t insist on starting with dinner, try breakfast. Learning to eat solids is just as much a learning experience for you as it is for your baby so have a good read, take notes and try and relax into a very messy but very fun new journey with your wee one.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids at 6 months old. Always speak with your pediatrician before you start solids. Many times your Dr. may have tips and tools to help you with this journey. Some signs that your baby is ready for solid foods include:
- Can your wee one hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
- Can he or she sit with support?
- Is your babe interested in what you’re eating?
- It seems that your child is still hungry after their normal breast milk or formula feeding.
When you start your child on solids it’s best to introduce new food items in the morning so if there is an allergic reaction it will likely be calmed down by bedtime.
As you start your wee one on a new food remember to wait 3-5 days before you add another new food to make sure there aren’t any allergic reactions. Keep a list of foods that have been through the waiting period without issue. This list will grow over time and you can build this list as your child’s food vocabulary grows. Once you have a good list it’s fun to mix and match foods to create new recipes for your wee one.
As you go through this process there are lots of different approaches to feeding an infant do what works for you and your baby and remember to have fun in this process. I think one time I made an avocado, banana, barley combo for lunch. Sounds dreadful but it got the job done, I tasted it and it wasn’t half bad.
Here is a general guideline that will help with quantities and timing:
- When your child is ready introduce Rice Cereal to begin. Try 1-2tbsp with 1oz of breast milk or formula. Some like to do this for dinner so the baby’s stomach is fuller and therefore has a better chance of sleeping through the night but others find their babies are too tired to begin this at night and so breakfast is best. Initially the cereal is soupy in consistency but you’ll thicken it as the week progresses by adding more rice cereal or less breas tmilk or formula. A full meal is typically 3-6 tbsp. of cereal.
- After a week of rice cereal then add in an additional meal at the other end of the day. Also try another grain like oatmeal or barley in addition to the rice-cereal meals.
- After your second week of rice cereal alternating with rice, oatmeal or barley it is time to introduce vegetables and fruits. Try avocados (a super food), sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, pears, apricots, carrots, peas, peach, green beans, peas, plums, and squash. Each pureed and thinned with either breast milk or formula. Remember to wait 3-5 days between each new item you add.
- After all this has gone well as your baby heads towards 9 months you can then start to introduce tofu, chicken, turkey, asparagus, pumpkin, zucchini, parsnips, mangos, nectarines
- At 9 months it is also safe to introduce whole milk yogurt.
But remember whole milk, whole eggs, chocolates, strawberries and peanut butter or peanut products, citrus fruits, yeast, wheat, shellfish and honey should wait till after the first year. Definitely consult your doctor about when they think your child is ready for the addition of these foods.
Some Additional Points to keep in mind:
- I recommend organic wherever possible.
- Lunch and Dinner are usually given ½ hour before the breast/bottle and Breakfast follows the breast/bottle. If your baby starts drinking too little breast milk or formula (intake drops off to less than 12oz per day) then give the breast/bottle first and throttle back on the food as your baby is still getting most of his/her nutrition from the breast milk/formula at this point.
- Amount of food your baby is eating should be roughly the size of your baby’s fist for each meal.
- Generally speaking at 6 months your child should be getting 4-5 feedings of breast milk or formula a day of 6-8 ounce at a time and be eating up to 2 solid meals a day, soon going to three.
- By 8 months if your baby has not started wanting less breast milk/formula then drop one breast/bottle feeding from each day. So if they were having 4 breast/bottle feedings a day go to three. They should be having 3 breast/bottle feedings per day by 9 months and 2 breast/bottle feedings by one year. Of course always check with your doctor for your particular baby.
This is by no means a complete guide but should give you some good solid (pardon the pun) information to start with. Please find some additional resources below that I am a fan of:
- An article by MomPrep Expert Dr. Jen about starting solids
- American Academy of Pediatrics about infant nutrition
- Healthychildren.org an AAP site about starting with solids
- If you are making your own baby food, trust me it’s not as hard as it sounds, here are some great resources:
- Weelicious also has great recipes and guides on her site including how to make your own brown rice cereal (super easy and will save you a fortune)
- A great book is Super Baby Food. The book can seem overwhelming, but if you go straight to the charts of food by age, it’s really helpful. Wonderful recipes in the back. Also great info on food storage as well as tips to making your baby’s food in less time. Useful through the toddler years.
- Momtastic has great recipes and guides
Enjoy this exciting time with your baby as you explore new foods together!