If you’re about to introduce solids to your baby’s diet, you may be feeling overwhelmed. I completely understand!
With SO much information out there about what and how you should feed your new eater, how could you not freak out a little?
Let me reassure you: introducing solids is not that hard. You’re not going to mess it up. Your baby is going to be fine.
How do I know this? Because as long as you take proper precautions to ensure your baby’s safety, it’s hard to go wrong. In general, the more you trust your instincts and follow your baby’s cues, the more fun you’ll both have with feeding.
Below are some commonly believed myths about introducing solids. Of course, if you have concerns, food allergies in your family, or your baby has any health problems, make sure to check with your pediatrician before proceeding.
Myth #1: You have to start with rice cereal.
Truth: Actually, the truth is closer to the opposite – it may be better not to start with rice cereal. Your baby has his whole life to develop a taste for white, refined carbs, so why not start with something wholesome and more flavorful? Sweet potato, avocado, squash, banana, or peas are all good first food options. If you feel most comfortable starting with rice cereal though, go for it.
Myth #2: You should start between 4-6 months.
Truth: Though many pediatricians give the green light at the four month appointment, most babies are not ready for solids this early. The American Pediatric Association, as well as the WHO and most other experts, recommend waiting until 6 months to begin solids. At this point babies are more likely to accept solids, less like to develop food allergies, and can sit up & swallow more easily. Until this point, no food is more nutritious than breastmilk or formula.
Myth #3: You have to give only one food for 4 days before you introduce another.
Truth: While it’s important to watch how your baby’s body reacts to foods you introduce, it’s very unlikely she’ll have an allergic reaction to fruits or vegetables. (Allergies are mostly to protein-containing foods like dairy, soy, wheat, shellfish and nuts). If you’re nervous, it won’t hurt to follow this conservative approach, but unless there’s a history of food allergies in your family, waiting a mere day should be enough in my opinion. Spacing out introduction may make more sense when you get to introducing protein foods, but again this mostly matters if there are allergies in your family. Some research even shows that small exposures to common allergens might protect against food allergies.
Myth #4: Baby food should be bland.
Truth: While it’s best to avoid salt, sugar and anything spicy, feel free to add flavor with spices and herbs, as you would when cooking your own meals. In many parts of the world, babies eat curry for their first meal – and love it! Beginning to expose your baby to interesting flavors may promote their acceptance of different flavors in the future. (If you breastfeed, your baby is already tasting different flavors everyday depending on what you eat.)
Myth #5: You need a special apparatus for making your own baby food.
Truth: You can use a baby food-making appliance, but you don’t need one. A blender, stick blender, food processor, or even a fork will work just as well. If you fork-mash foods for your very new eater (like in the first month of solids), put the puree through a strainer and mix well with water so he doesn’t gag on strings & chunks. When your baby can tolerate thicker purees or tiny chunks, simple fork-mashing is fine.
Though introducing your baby to solids may seem like a daunting task, keep in mind that he’ll probably only eat purees for a few months – then it will be mostly finger foods – so it’s a very short window of time you’ll be doing all this!