Parenting

Starting Solids: 4 Tips From a 'Pro'

baby eating
This past weekend, our 6-month-old babies finally got their first taste of solid food: delicious, nutritious pureed squash. Yummy! I mean, the stuff was goopy and stinky and reminded me of ... well, baby food, but the little guys dribbled and blibbled and slurped it right up!

Leading up to this first feeding, I'd read and heard several different opinions on what foods to start with, when to start them on solids, how to introduce new foods, and on and on. I think some advice is universal: start them anywhere from 4 to 6 months, introduce new foods in the morning, don't introduce another food until they've been on the previous for 3-4 days, and don't force it on them. Also, food at this age is not a supplement for their breast milk or formula, so you need to continue to give them the same amount of milk as always. I got a few other helpful hints though that I definitely think are worth putting into practice.

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  1. Start off with orange and yellow veggies: While most people have been starting their kids off on rice cereal since the invention of the baby spoon, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't feel that it's necessary. Some, like my pediatrician, believe that they might be better off starting with veggies, because they're more nutritious and might even help them develop a taste for the healthy stuff. Now, my boys are kind of like little piglets on the bottle, and even suck up their gripe water or Camilia drops with gusto, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised when they started diving mouth first into the spoons loaded with squash. Although feeding at this age isn't about nutrition, I felt pretty good about the fact that my boys were eating a good-for-you food, rather than a bland carb, lacking in flavor or nutritional value. 
  2. Try veggies before fruit: The thinking behind this one is that if you give your babies veggies before sweet, tasty fruit, they're more likely to take to them. Honestly, there's no medical evidence proving this theory correct, but it does make sense practically. Babies are predisposed to have a preference for sweets, so if you start giving them pears and apples first, why would they want to try foods like squash or green beans? No, if I was a kid who'd spent the last week eating applesauce and you tried to force mushy green veggies on me, I'd probably seal my lips in protest, bang my plastic spoon against my highchair tray, and shout, "Bring me my bananas, wench!"
  3. For the first few weeks, just have fun with it: Like I said, your babies are getting the nutrition they need from their milk, so food isn't a source of sustenance at this point. As my pediatrician explained to me, this is really an exploration, getting them used to taste and texture and learning to maneuver the food in their mouths. It definitely has taken a lot of the pressure off as I watch them try to figure out what this food thing is all about. My boy "Berman" is eating like a dainty little gent, having already mastered how to suck it off the spoon, and swallow it down, with minimal spillage. Meanwhile, his identical twin, "Herman," is a total mess -- dribbling food out, shoving his squash-covered hand in his mouth and sucking it off his fingers, face-planting into the spoon so it winds up all over his precious, chubby face. I mean, it's hilarious! Thank God I was told not to worry about how much food they're eating because I think most of Herman's squash winds up all over his pajamas, not in his tummy.
  4. If you have the time, make their food. I work from home, so obviously this is easy for me to say. But, with twins, we're talking double the jars of baby food and that adds up. More important, if I make their food, I know exactly what's going into it: fresh, organic fruits and veggies. So, every couple of weeks, I'll steam a bunch of veggies (to retain their nutrients) and freeze them in ice cube trays. Then, all I have to do is pop out a few at lunchtime, warm them in the microwave, and voila -- instant, Mommy-made lunch.

Those are the solid-food feeding tips that really resonated with me, but I know everyone tries different things. What are some suggestions you follow when feeding your babies solids?


Photo via iStock.com/David Sucsy 

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