Feeding Your Baby Solids

Apples and banana and pears -- oh my! Experimenting with new flavors can produce both delight and frustration. He may love what you give him -- or he might put on a big ol’ frown. But if you arm yourself with those cute little spoons, a wad of paper towels, and a bit of humor, you’ll enjoy introducing him to the great wide world of food.

When to begin
Before you introduce solids, make sure your baby has good head and neck control (which you can boost with some daily tummy time), can sit up well in a highchair, and has no difficulty swallowing. Another rule of thumb is to start when your baby has doubled his birth weight and is at least 13 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, so speak with your pediatrician about starting solids before this point.

First foods
You can feed your baby all kinds of single-ingredient foods, so put on your toque and get ready to serve it up! As long as what you’re offering is steamed and mashed well or puréed, you can prepare simpler versions of what you’re already eating yourself (so easy!). Here’s how to begin:

1. The world is his oyster. Well, don’t serve shellfish just yet (most doctors suggest waiting until your baby is 1 year old to introduce shellfish and other potentially allergenic foods, like peanuts, eggs, and fish)! In the past, pediatricians recommended single-grain, iron-fortified cereal as the first food because it was believed to be easy on your baby’s stomach. But since there’s no evidence that introducing foods in any particular order matters, check with your doctor to see what he prefers. Some pediatricians suggest feeding by color. For example, you could serve all the orange foods first, like peaches, squash and sweet potatoes, and then move on to green ones (peas, beans, etc). Go through the grains, like rice, oatmeal and barley, too. A breastfed baby may like to try meats first, which contain iron and zinc, two nutrients not found in abundance in breast milk.

2. Smaller is better. Offer your baby teaspoon-sized bites, and only a few of them per meal until he gets used to the transition. Don’t force him to eat more than he wants (if he purses his lips together and turns his head away, he’s done).

3. Stay slow but sure. It’s best to wait two to three days between each new baby food. By serving one at time over a couple of days, you’ll easily notice allergic reactions, like diarrhea, rashes, or vomiting.