Leading up to “starting solids,” as it’s called when babies start eating real food in addition to milk, I read some books and websites about how to start the process. I read Baby-Led Weaning, which was popular among other mom blogs I read, and also a chapter in Baby 411 about starting solids. I also read a little on BabyCenter and asked friends about it.
Overall, I was left confused. At our four month pediatrician appointment, our doctor said I can begin starting Logan on rice cereal or oatmeal. I wanted to get our sleep situation figured out before I added a new hurdle, so I decided to wait until he was five months. We also had a good thing going with his bottles, and he is very healthy with just that. Babies also don’t “need” the nutrition from food for many more months. It takes quite a while for them to actually learn to eat.
The theory behind Baby Led Weaning (aka Baby Led Solids) is that when babies are ready, they should learn to feed themselves. BLW recommends starting around 6 months, knowing that it’s all for play until about 9 months when baby gets good at handling food themselves. There’s no need for purees. Babies should experiment with food, learn how to put things in their mouth, and learn how to chew and swallow. It’s also a shared family activity where baby can eat what their parents eat, just in smaller bites. Purees confuse them and are unnecessary. I asked our doctor, he had never heard of it, and I decided to keep reading other ways to introduce food.
I bought a box of baby oatmeal and decided we would try that. It was awful looking–soupy and runny and smelly (you mix it with formula or breastmilk), Logan thought I was trying to poison him and kicked and screamed. We did this about 3 times, many days apart. We then decided to skip oatmeal and move on to fruits and vegetables. Who wants their first food to be from a box anyway? Right when he turned five months, I decided a jar of squash was a good first food. Surprisingly, Logan loved it! He was all business when eating. Would open his mouth, swallow and then whine for more. Wonderful! We have a good eater!
The unofficial rule of solids is to do the same food for 3-4 days to make sure the baby doesn’t have a reaction. We did our squash and he loved it.
Then I moved onto jarred sweet potato. Yuck! Logan would kick and scream and get very, very mad. We tried carrots. Pears. Homemade sweet potato. He hated it all. This lasted about a week. I was confused. Then, Logan started school. I asked his teacher if she could try feeding him. For her, he did great! Ate everything I sent. Hmmm, he is playing me.
So now, we are still moving through foods, trying new ones every few days and finding things Logan likes. I don’t rule out any foods and will go back to them eventually, or send them to school. I am doing a mix of jarred foods that I send to school and some homemade that I’ll feed him at home on the weekends. I hope to make more at home as I learn what he likes, but jarred is good for starting.
Back to my plan of feeding him–For this month, we will do all purees. He is too young for BLW anyway. I would like him to get used to tastes and textures and practice swallowing with a spoon. Around 6 months, I think I will try “sticks” of food like sweet potato, broccoli, avocado, zucchini, etc. that are steamed and able to be gummed, and let him start playing with that. The main fear of BLW is choking, but if you do the program as they recommend, the baby should gag before they choke. And apparently the gag reflex is farther forward in the mouth than an adult so the baby won’t get food stuck. If he isn’t ready, we’ll continue with purees and try again later. My goal is for him to move onto “sticks” and small bites of steamed food sooner than later and to keep exposing him to new fruits and vegetables.
Any foods your babies liked more than others? When did they stop purees and move on to table food in small pieces?