Baby Eats Real Food : )
We started Mazen on solid foods just a few days shy of his 6 month birthday. Waiting that long was hard! Recent research says there is no reason to start solids before 6 months, but I really think M was ready at the 5 month mark. He was showing all the typical signs. However, I waited to give his system just thaaaat much more time to develop, to avoid the solid poops and additional stress of solids just a wee bit longer. My gut told me at 5.75 months it was time.
Feeding a baby was scary and confusing at first! Despite being an R.D. I have little training in pediatrics since it’s such a specialized niche of the industry. A few good sites on feeding a baby are Kelly Mom and Wholesome Baby Food. Our pediatrician recommended starting with super smooth pureed oatmeal. In terms of what to add next, we’ve done all the popular first baby foods (avocado, sweet potato) and have been waiting 2-3 days between new ones. We’ve focused on whole grains, fruits and veggies. The latest from the AAP says that delaying highly allergic foods like eggs doesn’t really have any benefit. Our ped said trying yogurt, eggs and more in the near future would be fine. (We don’t have any family history of allergies). Heather actually just wrote an article for Babble on this and cited this lengthy paper that says: “There are no current data available data to suggest that cow’s milk protein (except for whole cow’s milk), egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish introduction into the diet need to be delayed beyond 4-6 months of age.” As always, check with YOUR pediatrician for recommendations!
Mazen’s first food was oatmeal, of course! We used a locally ground oatmeal from Mimi’s Baby Grains in Richmond.
Mimi sent me a few of her baby cereals for Mazen. The oatmeal is whole oat groats ground into a really fine texture to create a baby puree. I loved that the oats were freshly ground for maximum nutrition. Alternatively you could do this yourself!
(Sidebar: The latest on Kelly Mom says that iron replenishment isn’t as much of a huge deal as once thought and that supplementation with iron-fortified cereals might actually interfere with the iron absorption efficiency so we didn’t worry about starting with an iron-fortified oatmeal. Instead we’re focusing on iron from real food moving forward – Kelly Mom has a great list here.)
Mazen enjoyed the oatmeal and likes the barley as well. (We haven’t tried the brown rice or mixed grains yet.) It only took him a few bites to understand “how” to eat and swallow, and he gobbled down the whole serving we made for him, much to our surprise.
We are trying to be very mindful of our feeding behaviors. He is great at opening up like a little bird to let us know when he’s ready for a bite. We both hate to waste food, so it’s tempting to encourage “one more bite!” just for the sake of finishing whatever arbitrary serving size we have prepared. But he lets us know when he’s done by no longer showing interest or opening his mouth, and we’re doing our best to pay attention to these cues.
Since his first bite, Mazen has enthusiastically tasted:
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Green beans
- Chicken (pureed into sweet potatoes!)
Favorites: sweet potatoes, avocado, oatmeal with apple.
Dislikes: None so far… although we haven’t given him onions
Most magical: Prunes. Wow – they work!
A few people have commented that they are surprised we are not doing a baby–led weaning technique. I don’t think there is a right or wrong approach to feeding a baby. What is most important is that you pick a technique that works for both you and the baby. I have offered Mazen a few BLW-style foods, and each time he gagged and had me panicked he was choking. I gave him a very, very ripe banana, and he used his toothless gums to bite off a piece and proceeded to make gagging noises that had me fishing the piece right back out. On the other hand, he does very well with a spoon. I have read on some of the BLW websites that using purees is “force feeding a baby in an unnatural way,” but I hardly agree with that. I eat plenty of purees with a spoon myself! Early human parents could have easily mashed up food with a rock and fed their babies with a utensil carved out of wood. We have had no trouble with him understanding to open his mouth when he wants some and let us know when he is finished. Purees just require a bit more cue observation to keep the baby in charge of the eating. BLW is just not for us – at least right now.
We been making most of his food so far, and have also tried a few jars/packets too. I’m not an all-or-nothing girl for much of anything, so I’m not putting pressure on myself to make ALL of his food, but I’d like to do the majority of it to save money and keep it as fresh as possible.
Coming soon: our first stab at making baby food!