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So you’ve gone to the pediatrician and they’ve given you the go-ahead, you can start introducing solid foods. You’re excited because maybe if they start eating real food they’ll sleep through the night or you can cut back on a couple of bottle feedings. But is it really going to be as simple as just shoving food in their face?
Before I go any further, I want to preface this post by saying that every baby is different, this has been our experience thus far introducing solid foods, your baby may have his or her own preferences as you begin this journey with them. So I will share what we’ve been doing, what I’ve learned so far, and the products that Rigel and I have liked the most.
From the very beginning, Rigel has had a fast metabolism. He never subscribed to the whole ounce to ounce and half per hour theory of bottle feeding. To me, it felt like I was constantly nursing him or giving him a bottle. So when at 4 months old his pediatrician told me that I could start introducing solid foods I was excited. We started with baby oatmeal and he enjoyed that about as much I enjoyed eating oatmeal, which is to say not at all. That first month I wasn’t overly diligent about introducing anything. Until I got the Tommee Tippee Quick Cook Steamer Blender and started experimenting with some homemade purees.
At first, I just did different combinations of apples, pears, bananas, and berries. Rigel liked all the fruit purees I made at home but when I started to try to introduce more protein-based purees made at home he refused them. It was during this meat puree strike that we bought Rigel some Happy Baby Teething Wafers and he loved them! He was about to cut his first tooth and I think he found them to be very soothing and yummy of course! With the introduction of that packaged food however, I think I felt okay about introducing more store-bought items to Rigel. So I bought some Gerber Chicken and Vegetable Purees. For whatever reason, it can be really difficult to find organic-based protein purees, even at places like Whole Foods! I just went with it after reading the ingredients list and realizing it didn’t have anything funky in it. I gave it to Rigel and he ABSOLUTELY loved it! Never assume you’ll know what your baby will like, they will surprise you every time.
I saw a lot of things about baby-led weaning and even though we made a couple of attempts to feed Rigel bits of banana and other soft things, it wasn’t until his bottom teeth came in that he seemed truly interested in even attempting to eat anything truly solid. The first thing he ever tried was guacamole on one family outing to a mexican restaurant. He devoured it! So I bought avocados and started letting him eat those after he had purees.
It seemed like for a couple of months (from about months 5 to 7) he just wasn’t getting enough nourishment if we just put out bits of food for him (almost all of the food ended up in his bib or on the floor) so I opted to continue to feed him purees and offer bits of our food at dinner for him to try. He really enjoyed the purees and I was happy that I could see him actually getting additional calories. But those months were hard! His top teeth were trying to break through and it felt like they took forever to finally make their appearance.
Now a lot of people are going to have opinions about how you should introduce foods. Take the opinions in and then do whatever is right for your baby. I found that it was true that baby’s have an excellent gag reflex and they will cough up whatever’s too big for them to swallow. That being stated, until Rigel’s top teeth came out I made sure to steam any fruits or veggies that I was giving him to make sure they were extra soft for him to gum. The Tommee Tippee Quick Cook was super helpful for that. Once you start to notice that your baby is getting confident with their meals there’s no reason not to start introducing other textures. But don’t think that your baby is going to be ingesting everything you put in front of them any time soon. They will probably throw things to the floor for a while!
So 9 months in here’s the process that worked for us:
- Starting with purees before teeth come in – The purees can be either store-bought or home-made but don’t be afraid to try store-bought if your baby isn’t feeling what you’re making them. Our favorite brands for fruit purees are Beech Nut and for protein-based purees Earth’s Best or Gerber.
- Give soft fruits that can be easily gummed – once you feel they are ready to try some non-pureed foods, start with soft fruits and veggies. Bananas, avocados, mango, skinned tomato.
- Start giving bite-sized foods once teeth come in – Once your baby has a tooth or two you can start introducing bite-sized foods. For baby’s ease to pick up and to avoid possible choking cut food finger length. I recommend continuing to provide softer foods until your baby has teeth on top and bottom.
- Stop steaming once baby has top and bottom teeth – For foods that are only moderately hard or crunchy you can stop steaming them all together once baby has teeth on top and bottom. I would continue steaming things like carrots and other hard root vegetables.
- Remove fruit and veggie skins if you’re concerned about choking hazard – Remove the skins of fruits and veggies if you’re concerned about choking hazard as those are the bits that are the hardest to chew down without molars.
- Continue purees for as long as you and baby enjoy them – Don’t feel like you need to do one or the other. You can continue to give your baby purees for as long as they like them and you enjoy spoon-feeding them. Rigel at 9 months old has now begun to reject purees and will only take a couple of his favorite types.
- Finding the perfect baby plate can be hard so don’t be afraid to use the tray – Rigel is very strong so we have yet to find a suction plate that he can’t lift up and if he can lift it he will fling it, so for the time being we continue to give him his food a little bit at a time on his high chair tray.
- Don’t forget the water – Make sure you offer water throughout the meal even if they don’t drink very much or still aren’t drinking from a sippy cup. You can put the water in their bottle until they start drinking out of a sippy cup. This will help them swallow foods.
- Don’t be afraid to give your baby things that you don’t like – Remember your baby is not your clone so he or she may like things that you hate. Rigel loves mushrooms and pickles even though I dislike both. I thought it was important he give them a try so he doesn’t grow up thinking certain foods are “icky”.
- The meals don’t have to be fancy they just need to have the 3 macronutrients – Just like with an adult the meals you give your baby don’t have to be fancy they just have to include the 3 macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Here’s a quick list of some of our favorite products:
- NUK First Essentials Suction Bowl
- Parent’s Choice Soft Tip Feeding Spoons
- Munchkin Mighty Grip Trainer Sippy Cup
Remember everyone learns how to eat eventually so don’t stress too much about food before baby turns one. Until they’re one they’re going to still require the nutrients found in breastmilk or formula. Learning to eat is all about repetition and availability. If your baby sees chicken in front of them enough times they’ll eventually put it in their mouth to see what it is. So make it yummy, keep presenting food, and don’t forget eating is supposed to be fun.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about how Rigel’s transition to solids has been going or if you want me to share more about what he’s eating, like recipes of things I make him. Also, let me know how your little ones are doing and what they seem to enjoy eating.