Feeding a baby is really fun! Just think about it; at what other stage of life is such a ready form of excitement and entertainment available at every meal.
Feeding baby almost always includes a food fight to some degree, facial treatments, hair entanglements and a very hands-on tactile experience.
When to start solids
The most common question, when it comes to feeding baby, is when to introduce baby foods other than milk or formula. Each and every family is different, but in general there really is no set age that is “best”.
One milestone baby should reach before the commencement of solid foods is the loss of tongue thrust. If baby is still using his or her tongue to push every foreign object out of his or her mouth, introducing solid foods is going to be an exercise in frustration. You also want to see that the baby can hold his head upright, sit up unsupported and have doubled his birth weight. Another good indicator is that the baby stops sleeping through the night and wants to nurse or feed much more frequently.
Most of these milestones are reached by about 4-6 months of age, but that does not mean parents must start feeding solid foods. As long as baby is still growing, healthy breast milk can provide most of the nutritive needs for the first 12 months. This allows parents to slowly introduce foods when baby shows interest.
The term solid food is used loosely. Baby’s first foods are rarely solid; they are just more solid than milk is. Early foods must be presented in a pureed or mashed fashion.
The best options are foods which are low in sugars, low in protein and are known for their low allergy reaction. Each culture has certain foods it considers best as starters.
When choosing first solid foods keep in mind babies are notorious for their sweet tooth. If fruit is the first food baby ever eats it could be nearly impossible to get baby to eat vegetables when the time comes.
A good first food your doctor might suggest is rice cereal. Rice cereals rarely cause an allergic reaction, they are supplemented with vitamins and minerals, and they are quite bland. It is great to use breast milk or formula to water down the rice cereal to a very watery consistency so baby can swallow it easily.
A list of other great first foods includes mashed banana, mashed or pureed squashes like pumpkin, acorn or butternut, mashed sweet potato and apple sauce.
Getting it in the mouth
To be successful with feeding baby his first solid foods parents need to be prepared to help, a lot, and anticipate taking plenty of time to get through a feeding.
Meals should be spoon fed at the same time of day. Start by preparing only one meal each day and set it for the same time each day. Choose a time when baby is usually well rested and in a good mood.
Babies are just as particular about their foods as grown ups are, so offer foods the way you plan to offer them from now on. For example, if you start your baby with foods at room temperature you will not need to worry about heating a meal when you are out later on.
Be certain both baby and feeding parent is covered with bibs to handle any splatter and have fun!