In the last post, we breezed through Ruthie's eating experiences with baby led weaning. Now she's two and can pretty much eat anything, including the occasional lightning bug. Back to the newbies (6 months old), how much food are we supposed to be giving these guys? And when? I'll answer both of those questions here along with a list of my favorite first foods.
I use a baby-led feeding approach which is definitely modifiable by mashing with a spoon rather than offering slices if that's more comfortable. I actually mashed a lot of Ruthie's first foods while still encouraging self feeding - she grasped the food and moved it to her mouth or held the spoon herself. Introduction of solids is more of a parenting decision than a medical one. You are completely in charge of how & when to introduce foods. In the beginning, most of the food ends up encrusted in their eyebrows anyway. The main goal is you get both you and babe familiar with food other than their usual breast milk or formula. A teaspoon or two is all that baby will likely actually eat at a feeding, maybe for more than the first month of trying.
The photos show some example daily portion sizes for the first month or so of feedings. I put 1 of the slices in the pictures out at one feeding so babe can begin to associate the amount of food they're eating with fullness (verrrrry beginnings of mindful eating). There is a lot of conflicting information about offering single ingredient foods and then waiting a period of time from 24 hours to an entire week to monitor for a reaction. We have no family history of food allergy, so I did not follow a strict waiting period. Because I was so used to breastfeeding only, there were days I skipped solids completely simply because I forgot. No need to write out a schedule and stick to it (unless you like that sort of thing, you weirdo. Kidding, I want to be like you). Here is an example schedule for the first week of introducing foods:
Monday - Avocado (1 slice or about a tablespoon mashed) in AM and banana in PM
Tuesday - Avocado in AM
Wednesday - Avocado in AM and sweet potato in PM
Thursday - Sweet potato AM and PM
Friday - forgot about food because of busyness
Saturday - Sweet potato in AM and cauliflower in PM
Sunday - Cauliflower in AM and banana in PM
Offer foods when you are sitting down to eat too, anywhere from 2 - 4 times a day. Self-feeding babes are still meeting most of their nutrient needs from breast milk or formula. Scheduling food in between feedings can be tricky if you're like me and have absolutely no schedule for feedings. I feed Bobby when he seems hungry (when he gets grumpy) and did the same with Ruthie. That means there are periods he'll go 3 or 4 hours and other times when he'll nurse again after 30 minutes. I will try to wait at least an hour after nursing he isn't too full but not yet hungry enough to become frustrated (picking up food is hard!).
There is a myth you're probably familiar with that starting fruits before vegetables will result in your babe to like only sweet tastes. They already love sweet tastes because they're human and sweet stuff tastes great (also because bmilk and formula are both sweet tasting). Start with whatever food works for you (or you have on hand already!).
15 Favorite First Foods:
Any of these foods can be cut into sticks for self-feeding, or mashed and offered with a spoon. No need to thin with added liquid and/or puree. When roasting or sauteing, I use olive oil. (For a huge list of foods to offer, check out 100 Foods to Try Before Age One)
1. Banana (ripe and soft)
2. Sweet potato (roasted or baked, skin removed)
3. Cantaloupe (ripe and soft)
4. Honeydew (ripe and soft)
5. Lentils (cooked until well done) - awesome iron source
6. Avocado (ripe and soft)
7. Butternut squash (roasted and scooped out of skin)
8. Pumpkin (roasted or canned works too, how easy is that!)
9. Plain whole milk yogurt
10. Cauliflower (roasted or steamed until soft)
11. Broccoli (roasted or steamed until soft)
12. Zucchini (sauteed or roasted until soft)
13. Acorn squash (roasted and scooped out of skin)
14. Black beans (cooked until well done, mashed)
Learning about introducing foods to your baby can be so frustrating because there is so much conflicting information that can leave you feeling less confident than when you started researching. While the articles I write are my experiences, they're also backed by a combination of current research, AAP guidelines, and knowledge of how nutrition effects the body. This is babe's first experience with food, how exciting is that? I wish I could go back and taste food for the first time. I hope it's a relaxed and non stressful time for you. If you ever read anything confusing, send me a message and I'd be so happy to help.
The information in this article is general in nature and intended to share my personal experiences, it is not medical advice. Please discuss any medical concerns with your physician.