Just a few reminders before that very first spoonful ends up in your baby’s mouth:
• Make sure your baby is sitting straight. A high chair works better than a recliner or baby bouncer. This way; your baby will be more comfortable when mastering this new way of eating.
• Put some food on your baby’s lips first to let them experience the texture and get curious about what’s coming.
• Always wait for your baby to pay attention before starting to feed. Do not put anything in a child’s mouth without their permission. It may be extremely tempting to just sneak a spoonful of food into their mouth while they’re is distracted, but that strategy may quickly lead to increased pressure at mealtimes. Many babies react to pressure by eating smaller amounts and being less interested in feeding.
• Let your child decide how much food they want and whether they want to eat. Some babies want to eat a lot of solid foods from the first feeding, while others want a teaspoon or two, and some are not interested at all. At this age solid foods are not likely to contribute significant nutrition to your baby’s diet and even a small amount is an important exposure. Do not feel like they need to finish a whole serving and do not feel pressured to serve a “typical” portion size. At the end, it is your baby who determines the amount he wants to eat at each feeding.
• Stop feeding immediately when your baby is no longer showing interest. Most babies make it clear that the meal is over by being more distracted by their surroundings, turning their heads away, and closing their lips. By pushing your baby to eat even a little more you may make meals unpleasant for both of you and potentially interfere with your baby’s ability to self-regulate.
• Try including the baby in family meals, even if it’s just “playing” with a few Cheerios, or perhaps eating tiny bites of the food you are having. This will help them feel included in the family meal and learn to like the foods that you are enjoying.
Your baby may not like the flavor or texture of some foods at first, but don’t give up. Studies show that the more food experiences babies have in the first two years of life, the more varied a diet they eat as schoolchildren. And while starting with fruit probably doesn’t prevent babies from liking vegetables later, introduction of solids is a perfect time to allow babies to experience the flavor of green vegetables and other foods with slightly bitter flavors. Your little one may not like it at first, but if you are consistent and keep offering green vegetables daily; your patience will pay off.
How to Serve your Baby’s First Meals
Start with one-ingredient purées, so if your baby has an allergic reaction you’ll immediately know the culprit. If you are introducing a new food, offer it in the morning to have time to observe your baby for signs of allergic reaction during the day. If possible, wait at least 24 to 48 hours before introducing each new food, since it often takes that long for an allergic reaction to manifest.
Try to plan solid meals when your baby is neither starving nor too full.
- If you are formula feeding, offer solids a little earlier than the regular feeding time and “top up” with the bottle after that.
- If your hungry baby gets easily frustrated when offered food in this novel fashion, experiment with giving a little bit of formula first and letting your baby finish it after the solid meal.
- If you are breastfeeding, you can offer solids after you breastfeed so that your baby can get all the goodness of the less-filling breast milk.
Your baby may take some time to learn how to handle the totally new texture of solid foods. Keep the first purées very thin, just a little thicker than the milk or formula your baby is drinking. As your baby learns to master this first challenging texture, it is time to serve thicker purées and purées with lumps. For most babies, the transition to lumpy purées happens within the first few weeks of starting solids. As soon as they have no trouble handling a certain texture, it is time for an upgrade!
What to Drink
Babies get most of the water they need from breast milk or formula when they are starting solids. However, it is a good idea to introduce a sippy cup with a little water (1-2 oz.) at mealtimes when your baby is first eating solid foods to allow her to practice using it. At the age of eight to ten months most babies can enjoy drinking their water and formula from a cup with a straw. After 12 months of age, most babies can drink their water and cow’s milk from an open cup with a little help, and they can be weaned off a bottle gradually.