Welcome to the Wonderful World of Solid Food

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

sweet potato mustache
We're in on an exciting new phase for Joaquin: introducing him to solid food. Up until this point, he has been exclusively breastfed, so I deem it might be quite a challenge getting him to try new food. There's a lot of overwhelming info out there about when to start your baby on solids, which kinds of food to introduce, the best techniques to do it, etc. And because I'm fairly new to this and by no means, an expert on the matter, I took on the task of combining the most logical & helpful information from resources out there, including Joaquin's pedia.

When should baby start eating solid food?

Before you get ahead of yourself with utter excitement at this new milestone, be sure your baby is actually ready to try to move past the liquid diet. There is a reason why doctors commonly suggest that babies start around their 6 month, and this is because it is around this age that they develop the following:

  • head control & ability to sit upright with support - this allows baby to be in a position that helps him swallow easily & prevents choking hazards.
  • diminished extrusion reflex - also called the tongue-thrust reflex, where baby instinctively pushes out food with his tongue instead of swallowing it.
  • first teeth - generally, most babies begin to spurt their first pearly whites
  • growth spurt - this short periods bring sudden increase in weight gain & therefor entails sudden increase in appetite. Hence, it's the perfect opportunity to start introducing solids to baby's diet to cope with his need of extra nutritious tummy fillers.
  • mature digestive tract - this helps reduce the risk of getting sick from ingesting any unfriendly bacteria

What do I feed him/her?

This is the part I meant where there's an overload of info out there. Doctor's normally prescribe starting off with rice cereals, like Cerelac. However, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the healthiest option. It's only because there are least people allergic to cereals compared to other fruits & veggies, & it's only logical that we don't expose baby to allergens on his first try of solid food. I did ask my doctor though, on whether it's also acceptable to go straight to fruits & veggies & she said it's perfectly okay, too. Let me reiterate that this is a purely personal decision, and stems from our preference to skip any commercially-prepared food as much as we can hold it off. In no way am I saying that this is the only correct way to do it. It's entirely up to you.

Here are great suggestions on what you can start with:

Joaquin's first meal:
steamed sweet potato w/ milk

  • ripe banana
  • sweet potato/yam
  • apple
  • avocado
  • squash

These fruits are fortified with vitamins & iron, which baby will increasingly need around this age, they're sweet like breastmilk which helps in the transitioning, plus they're easy on baby's tummy's digestion.

The La Leche League suggests the following progression in foods:

  1. bananas, sweet potatoes, & avocados
  2. meats
  3. whole grain bread & cereals
  4. other fresh fruits (citrus are delayed until 9-12 mos)
  5. veggies
  6. dairy products (cow's milk delayed until 12-18 mos)

How do I prepare my own food?

In our case, my dutiful hubby (*wink*) has taken it upon himself to make time in preparing Joaquin's meals. This way, we know exactly what goes into his food & how it's made. Plus yeah, of course it's cost efficient, too! If you do decide to go this route, the trick is to make the food in batches. You can divide it per serving or per day, refrigerate, and then just heat to room temp. the amount you need per feeding.This way, you can do the preps once or twice a week only instead of everyday.

Baby Bullet baby food storage
You can purchase food storage made specifically for baby food, or use your own like mini-tupperwares with tight seals (like we use) or do as other moms suggest and go for sterile ice cube trays that come with their own cover or Glad Wrap 'em. Just be sure that you don't feed baby directly from your storage container, as you cannot keep any left overs if you do this because you'll contaminate it already with baby's saliva. It goes the same for store-bought food: you can't feed him directly from the bottle and then keep left overs.

The best methods include broiling, steaming & baking. Stay away from boiling as this tends to drain most of the nutrients away, and of course frying is a no-no for now because of the unnecessary fats that will add to baby's dish. After cooking, just purée or mash & add breastmilk or formula-milk until you get the desired consistency. You'll want a runny mixture for the first few times you feedings.

Additional Tips & Trivia

1) just because baby winces or pushes the food out if his mouth doesn't be necessarily mean he dislikes the food. He just may not have lost the extrusion reflex entirely. Also keep in mind that the taste & texture is an entirely new experience to him & it will take a little patience to ease him in.

2) the belief that you should feed baby veggies before fruits to keep him/her from having a preference for sweets is false. Babies already have an innate preference for sweet taste because if milk. Breastfed babies also have already experienced a wide variety of tastes because of what mommies pass onto their milk based on what they eat.

3) stick to the 4-day rule -- that is, waiting for 4 days before introducing a new ingredient to determine any possible allergic reactions. It's also best to try out new food during daytime, when it's easiest to access medical assistance if needed for cases of allergies.

4) Breastmilk (or formula) should be continued at least through the first year of age. Feeding baby solids should not replace milk as the primary nutrition, and is only there for supplementary purposes.

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