Starting Baby on Solids: Guidelines, Tips, and Tricks

*This is information based on running and working in a daycare setting for several years, along with LOTS of questions asked to doctors for my own 4 children, and my own research through out the years. I am not claiming to be a professional, please don’t take it as such.*

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So you are thinking about starting your little one on solids? We recently started our 4.75 month old daughter on baby food about 3 weeks ago. So far she’s tried bananas, love!, sweet potatoes, love!, apples, meh!, carrots, blah!, and peaches, ugh ugh ugh! Haha.

Starting solids is such an exciting milestone, it’s actually one of my favorites. But there are some ground rules that you should probably be aware of before you start, for the safety and comfort of your baby.

  1. Talk to your baby’s doctor… BEFORE you start anything new with your baby. Your baby’s doctor is a professional and will give you some guidelines based on his/her assessment of your baby.
  2. Remember that each baby is different. So as for the friend who got to start feeding her baby at 4 months per doctors suggestion, the same friend whose baby took right to it with NO ISSUES whatsoever, good for her.  It may not pan out the same for you and your baby. Your baby may not be ready to eat at all! It’s fine, baby gets all the nutrition they need from breastmilk and/or formula for quite some time.
  3. The recommended age for babies to start eating solids is 4-6 months. Not 3.5, not 3.75… 4-6 months. 4 months is usually around the time when your baby can tolerate the solid food in his stomach without causing serious discomfort for your little one.  However, more recently, there has been debate on this subject due to some discrepancies in the guidelines set forth by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). In the breastfeeding section it states that exclusively breastfed babies should not start solid foods until 6 months, whereas the nutrition guidelines for pediatricians states that 4-6 months is a good time. Discuss this with your baby’s doctor as he will likely have more insight on the matter and can better evaluate based on YOUR child.

Without further ado… Some signs your baby MIGHT be ready for solid food:

  1. Has good head control.
  2. Can sit well when supported. Meaning baby can sit upright (and stay that way) when put in a highchair or seat.
  3. Can move food to the back of mouth to swallow, instead of pushing it forward with his tongue.
  4. More than 2 times his birth weight and at least 4 months old.
  5. Also your baby might show interest in food, such as watching you eat or opening his mouth like he wants to take a bite.
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You will need (obviously besides the food):

  • A soft tipped baby spoon
  • A small bowl
  • A wet washcloth
  • A dry washcloth
  • A change of clothes (for you and baby)
  • A mop
  • Another wet washcloth
  • Maybe a tarp
  • A bib
  • A shower

Haha… You think I’m kidding? Feeding babies is messy business. Just yesterday my daughter got excited and smacked the spoon out of my hand causing banana to fly everywhere, including in my hair and (I found out later on) down my shirt.

What kind of food to feed your baby?

Your baby can start on any singled pureed food, such as fruits, veggies, some meats and infant cereals.

If your baby doesn’t like something right away, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like it at all. These are new tastes and textures to your little one, just give it a little while and try again in a few weeks.

There are a few tell signs your baby is full:

  1. Turns head away
  2. Won’t open mouth
  3. Leans back
  4. Plays around

A few tricks to get your baby to eat:

  1. Babies naturally have really short attention spans. My daughter for one, has like a 2 second attention span. It will take me a good 20 minutes to feed her when her brothers and sister are around because every time they move she has to see what they are doing. I suggest feeding your little one when there is not a whole lot of excitement or people around.
  2. Talk to your baby, make her smile then dip the tip of the spoon in her mouth. Just enough to give her a little taste. Sometimes this will trigger her to want more, sometimes it’s a fail. Haha. It doesn’t hurt to try though.
  3. Pretend the spoon is an airplane. I’m not kidding! This actually works. I’ve used it on everyone one of my children and multiple other little nuggets. It has basically the same effect as the previous suggestion.
  4. Feed your baby when she is not too hungry, tired, or cranky. This makes a world of difference. Try for shortly after a bottle or just after a nap.

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Watch for allergies.

Food allergies are present in about 5% of children and are usually more prevalent in children whose parent or a sibling have an allergy.  Cases can happen immediately or hours later.

A mild case will present with hives, red itchy spots, and swelling. Also might show as stomach discomfort and vomiting or diarrhea.

More severe cases, which are a medical emergency, will happen suddenly and will present with wheezing, facial swelling, and trouble breathing. If this happens, contact 911 immediately!

Allergies can happen with any food but in most cases are related to eggs, cow’s milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish.

When starting foods it is recommended to stay on the same thing for 3-5 days, because in most cases this is enough time for an allergy to present itself, if there is one.

Allergy cases are treated with avoidance of the food with which they are associated.

Super important: NO HONEY or COW’S MILK until age 1.
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