Baby Food: To Feed or Not to Feed
Just to be clear, no one is insinuating that you should not feed your baby! I’m pretty sure that is rule number one in the mommy handbook! (HA! Like there is one of those…) But seriously, please feed your child. What we are talking about is introducing solids – and by solids we mean anything that isn’t formula or breast milk, not actual solid food here, folks. These days there is a lot of debate on when to introduce solids, what is the right way to do it, and in which order foods should be introduced. As always, every mother has their own opinion – which lets be honest, they are often to quick to share – but I thought I might as well throw my two cents in. To add to the fun, I’ll throw in some info from the almighty “they” and see what they have to say on the topic.
When “They” Say to Give Baby Food
- Grandmas – For some reason, grandparents seem to really jump onto the food bandwagon. Seriously, every one of my child’s grandparents told me how I needed to start him on cereal way before I was ready. I don’t know what is up with that, you’d have to ask them.
- Doctors – The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to introduce solids around six months of age, but not before four months. Studies show that food introduced before four months of age leads to higher childhood obesity rates. (Thanks mom and dad, that answers all my questions!)
- Traditional Food Introduction – Those that introduce baby food with the typical approach generally start introducing foods around the four to six month mark, or in my case, when the baby starts showing interest in big people food instead of just formula.
- Baby Led Weaning-ers (because I didn’t want to say wean-ers) – Those that prescribe to the baby lead weaning philosophy say absolutely no food before six months, period.
How “They” Say To Introduce Baby Food
- Grandmas – Again, grandparents seem to be big cereal advocates. Just today my son’s great grandmother was astounded that he eats vegetables for breakfast as opposed to cereal. I personally would rather give him something that I feel has more nutrients, but to each their own. Seriously, grandparents, I don’t know why you are stuck on this whole cereal thing, but do you guys!
- Doctors – The American Academy of Pediatrics says to introduce baby to a wide range of healthy foods, including a variety of textures. The AAP also advocates for self-feeding.
- Traditional Food Introduction – Those that introduce food traditionally generally do so with the use of baby cereal or baby purees.
- Baby Led Weaning-ers – BLWers skip purees altogether and give baby healthy foods that they can grasp on their own. Foods are cut into french fry sized shapes so that baby can easily feed themselves.
In What Order Do “They” Say Baby Food Should Be Introduced
- This was a hard one to find a straight answer for. It appears that while most everyone has an opinion, the important people (doctors) don’t seem to care. The AAP lists no recommendations on whether to start fruits or vegetables first, but simply says that they should be eating a wide variety of those two things.
- As far as everyone else, some say that veggies should be introduced first so that baby doesn’t refuse them later. Others say that fruits should be introduced first because baby is more likely to like them and to prevent constipation.
Our Baby Food Introduction
- When? I felt comfortable starting Chunker on baby foods right before he turned four months old. I decided to listen to my mommy instincts and give it a go. Chunk had been crying quite a bit and was just generally discontent and I really felt he wasn’t getting enough from just formula. Thankfully, he loved having something more substantial to eat and seemed much more satisfied once he started solids.
- How? I started Chunker out with very thin rice cereal. When I say thin, I mean super thin, like the same consistency as formula. I spooned it into his mouth and waited to see how he handled it. We made a huge mess but he got the concept of how to open his mouth and swallow appropriately very quickly, so we moved on from there.
- Where to Start? I gave Chunk cereal three times – that’s it. He was given cereal just long enough to make sure that he had the whole eating with a spoon thing down and then we went on to something more flavorful. I started him with veggies because I didn’t want him to get a sweet tooth. Now, of course, he doesn’t want to eat any fruits! (Mamas, we can’t ever win, can we?) Thankfully, he loves his veggies and will eat apples for me on occasion which helps in the poop department.
The Take Away
As always, talk to your doctor before you do anything. Making a plan a professional is always your best bet. Be open and honest and make sure you have a doctor that is open to how you want to parent your child. I am also a big advocate for those mom instincts. If you have a voice inside of your head telling you to do something, you probably should (within reason). You’re the mama and you know what is best for your child. As I’m sure you know by now, everyone has their own opinion and they’re going to give it to you whether you like it or not. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor, do your research, and make an informed decision on what is best for your and your baby.
Click here for more information on feeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics.