In case you missed it, here is a recent post from “Rosie to the Rescue”, my blog for Parents Magazine. Transitioning your baby from liquids to solids can cause anxiety for parents. In this post, I provide some guidelines to help you through the process. Don’t miss the rest of the “Rosie to the Rescue” posts, available here.
There are many transitions in a baby’s life that can cause stress for parents, especially first-time parents. One of these is the transition from an exclusively liquid diet (breast milk or formula) to one that also incorporates solids. With my first son, the concept of feeding him solids in addition to breast milk blew my mind. First of all, I had no idea what to cook for a baby. Second, I was afraid he might choke on these new solid foods. And third, I just couldn’t get my head around putting anything but milk into his wee mouth… What would happen?
To say I was a little paranoid is an understatement. After all, I am the mother that wanted to park outside the ER the first time I gave my son a peanut, so we’d be in the right place in case he had an allergic reaction. (I still don’t think this plan is totally crazy, by the way.) But these parental worries are why education is so important and the reason we must surround ourselves with people and sources that we trust. These sources of information can help us navigate each new stage, give us confidence that we are doing things in the best way for our family, and ease the worry that can cause us to miss out on the joys of these milestone moments.
The transition from a liquid to solid diet has been in the news a lot lately due to a recent study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that found a large number of mothers were not following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines on introducing solid foods. The AAP currently recommends introducing solids when your child is 6 months old and exclusively breastfeeding (or using formula when breastfeeding is not possible) up until that point. This is important because introducing solids too early is associated with obesity, celiac disease, diabetes, and eczema and may pose a choking risk if the child is not able to properly hold up his head. I also want to dispel the myth that eating more solid foods will dramatically help a child sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is possible even on an exclusively liquid diet and is a learned ability, rather than a result of being overly “full.”
While it can sometimes be hard to fight your own poor habits or pass on advice from overly helpful family members and friends, it is important to remember that breakthroughs in science and research help us improve our parenting know-how over time to make present and future generations healthier than the last. With the AAP’s research about the implications of introducing solids too early—combined with the potential choking hazard and the fact that introducing solids early won’t help him learn to sleep through the night—it just doesn’t make sense not to follow these guidelines. Your child has a lifetime of chewing ahead of him, so there’s no need to start him on solids until your baby reaches the current AAP recommendation of 6 months and shows signs of readiness. Instead, enjoy the months of not having to whip up some pureed squash and having it hurled at you as your wee one tries to navigate a spoon while they last!