Out of all the baby milestones, one of the most exciting is definitely the transition to solids. But it’s also an evolution with plenty of questions attached to it—When should you start? With what? And how? To help answer all of these for you, we tapped Dr. Michelle Davenport, registered dietitian and PhD in Nutrition, mother of a toddler, and co-founder of Raised Real, a service which delivers organically sourced, preservative-free, ready-to-blend baby food (and a steamer/blender) right to your doorstep. Here, Davenport dishes on the 4-1-1 of transitioning your baby to solids. Any other Q’s? Feel free to add them in the comments and we’ll be sure to get you an answer!
When To Start:
The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend introducing baby food no sooner than 6 months. A baby who is ready to start eating baby food will display these signs:
-Can keep their neck up and sit up without support.
-No longer has the tongue-thrust reflex, or pushing foods out with tongue. The mouth and tongue develop in sync with the digestive system, so once their tongues are ready, their bellies are, too.
-Is expressing interest in solids by turning towards the spoon and grabbing food with their hands.
Food Order and Allergy Concerns:
It doesn’t matter the order you serve your baby’s first meals. The AAP says it’s fine to introduce foods with mixed ingredients and in no particular order. New research shows that introducing allergenic foods to your baby earlier rather than later may ward off any future food allergies. If you don’t have a family history of food allergies and your baby hasn’t showed signs of one, you can slowly introduce allergenic foods one at a time starting at 6 months. Remember to consult your pediatrician before doing this. If you do have a family history of allergies, you’ll just want to keep a closer eye on potential allergies or tummy troubles (their little digestive systems take time to adjust), and you can keep introducing the same meal over a few days. You could also alternate between two meals for lunch and dinner over a few days.
Finding The Right Texture:
Baby food texture is on a spectrum. It starts with thin purees, progresses to mashed, then minced, and finally, finger foods. You’ll know when your baby is ready for more complex texture when they tolerate thin, smooth purees without any problem. When you introduce a lumpier texture, they will move the food around their mouths using their tongue. The great thing about homemade food is that you can easily take two steps forward and one step back, always tailoring the food to the baby, and not vice versa.
How Much Is Too Much (Or Too Little):
In the first year of life, breast milk or formula is the primary source of nutrition, and baby food is meant to fill in nutrition gaps and train a baby on how to eat. Babies are experts at determining how much they want to eat. When just starting to eat, a baby may take as little as 1 tablespoon. The WHO recommends 2-3 meals a day for infants between 6-8 months, then moving up to 3-4 meals a day for infants between 9-24 months, adding snacks in between starting at 12 months.
Signs To Watch For:
Fullness—Babies can self-regulate and know when they are full. They’ll show signs of fullness, such as turning their face away from the spoon or pushing it away with their hands.
Poop—The digestive system undergoes many changes to their gut flora and enzymes as it adapts to eating baby food. This means you might see many changes in poop. Both constipation and loose stools are completely normal with the introduction of baby food, if it doesn’t go on for too long. Always call your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
Hydration Beyond Milk:
According to the WHO, babies younger than 6 months should stick to breastmilk or formula. Introducing water can mess with their electrolyte balance and cause water intoxication. After 12 months, babies can have as much water as they please. As for juice and any sweetened beverages, the AAP recommends skipping them altogether.
If you’re worried your baby is a picky eater, research shows it may take a baby 10-20 tries of a new food before readily accepting it. If your baby is refusing a new meal at first, keep trying. You’re on the right track.
Dr. Michelle Davenport created Raised Real as an answer to the health crisis affecting kids today. “It’s alarming that feeding babies junk food during their most critical years of development has become the standard, and unsurprising that we have sick, obese kids who have shorter lifespans than their parents, for the first time in centuries,” she says. “This is an industry problem, not a parenting problem; parents do the best they can with what they have.” Davenport is on a mission to make it as easy as possible for parents to give their kids a healthier future.
This article comes courtesy of Mother + Raised Real
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