You just got the OK from your doctor to start solids. YAY! How exciting…this is such a fun time for you and your baby. You’ll start noticing that baby food makes up the majority of your grocery store’s baby isle (behind diapers and wipes of course), you see everyone else giving their baby purees and we all love those paper towel commercials where baby is covered from head to toe in smashed peas.
Most doctors won’t argue about the fact that until their first birthdays, babies don’t NEED solid food. Their nutrition needs to come mostly from breast milk or formula in that first year…solids are really just for practice. So why is there such a huge push to stuff our babies full of green beans and carrots?
I stressed myself sick about my daughter’s eating habits (or lack there of) to the point where I have gone back and forth on offering my son a single bite of real food until he’s 10. But what do you know…his 4 month appointment rolled around and the doctor OK’d me to start cereal and, when we were comfortable, baby food. Four months seemed young to me but I have a BIG boy. I went ahead and started cereal and dragged my feet on the other stuff.
Because of my daughter’s issues, I’ve done hours of online research on how to start solids. There are basically two methods- purees or baby-led weaning.
Baby-led weaning was a new concept to me. It is kind of a game changer to this whole “baby food” line of thinking. Basically with baby-led weaning you don’t feed your baby, you let him/her do it 100% on their own. For some people this means waiting until baby has the pincher grasp down to introduce tiny bits of food…for others it means putting a bowl of baby food in front of them, handing them a spoon and letting them figure it out. No matter what your “method” you should always make sure baby can sit upright with no help and always supervise.
I’ve chosen to cover my bases and do both, which seems fairly common. I always lead feedings with milk, then feed my son a bit of pureed stuff and then spread manageable bits of food on his tray and let him take over. He’s only 8 months old but has really been able to manage his food well.
One thing I do struggle with is choking. I had to straight up administer the heimlich on my daughter after she choked on a small piece of pancake. It was the most horrifying/traumatizing experience EVER and I still can’t get through a single meal without telling her to chew her food. Seriously…does this stuff only happen to me?!
Anyway…I have a heart attack at every meal with using the baby-led weaning concept. There is a lot of gagging and coughing going on, even with the smallest and softest bits of food. But I’ve learned this is a normal process to help baby learn how to eat/swallow appropriate bites of food. I’ve also heard that the “zone” that triggers the gag reflex is further forward in babies around 6 months of age then where it is for a 1 year old. That give me a liiiiiittle more peace of mind when I watch my son put those steamed carrot cubes in his mouth. Does this mean I’m more relaxed? No, I still jump out of my chair at least 5 times a meal because I’m a complete psycho.
How did you start your baby on solids?