Starting Solid Food

Is there an easy to way to know when baby is ready for solids? Well, every child is unique, so there are no definite timetables. Always follow a recommended diet from your pediatrician or health care provider to provide a fully balanced diet to meet your baby’s nutritional requirements. Many doctors recommend beginning solids at six months.

Typical signs that indicate your baby is ready for solids include:

  • The ability to sit without help
  • Active interest in food that others are eating, watches people eat
  • Does not use tongue to push solids or spoon out of mouth
  • The ability to signal she wants to be fed or has had enough to eat
Here are some general guidelines for when starting solid foods:
  • Consult with your pediatrician or health care provider if you have any questions concerning introducing foods.
  • Breast milk or fortified formula should be continued until the first birthday. Cow’s milk should not be introduced until the baby is at least one year of age.
  • Always check with your doctor or health care provider if you think your baby is not eating enough of the right foods.
  • Use a high chair or infant specific chair when feeding your baby.  If your baby is sitting is upright, he is less likely to choke.
  • Never leave your baby unattended when eating.  If possible, feed baby with the family.  This will get your child on a regular feeding schedule and enjoying a familiar routine.
  • Juice should be given after regular fruit has been introduced.  Try waiting until 10 months of age.  Juice intake should be limited to 4-6 ounces/day for children 1 to 6 years of age.
  • Do not get discouraged.  Children’s appetites and tastes are finicky and change throughout development.
Think your baby is ready to start solid foods? Here is more help on starting solids with a suggested timeline of when to introduce different types of fruits and veggies.

Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Food

The benefits of homemade baby food seem apparent to us involved with this program, but may not be so obvious to new parents who are faced with the daunting task of introducing solid food to baby for the first time.  After all, the jarred food is found on the baby aisle at the grocery store. It seems like that’s where you’re supposed to get it from, right? Well, if you take a few minutes to consider all of the health and economic benefits of making your own, you may find yourself in the produce section instead of the baby aisle when the time comes.

Long Term advantages

  • You control what goes into your baby’s food.  There are no extra additives, seasonings or preservatives.
  • The earlier healthy eating habits are introduced and re-enforced the more likely it would be for your child to make wise choices in the future.
  • Preparing home-made baby food can help the entire family make wiser food choices.
  • The groundwork you lay at this phase of your child’s life will make it easier at the next stage to continue healthy eating for the whole family.
  • When fresh vegetables and fruits are a part of your baby’s diet, it will be easy to make these items a regular part of family mealtime.

A Healthier Baby

  • Giving your baby food made from fresh fruits and vegetables increases the vitamins and nutrients in the diet.  Canning and processing can eliminate these vitamins and nutrients.
  • Your baby will react to the stonger tastes, smells and colors of homemade foods.  Cooking food at home can maximize the outstanding color, texture and taste of the food.
  • Serving fresh or even fresh-frozen baby food to your baby can help them be more open to tasting new flavors as they grow older (babies respond to taste, color and smell).
  • Home-prepared baby food allows for a better variety of foods and a more balanced diet.  As your baby grows you can add herbs and seasonings and combine flavors to make mealtime stimulating.
  • Early and repeated exposure to a variety of foods like fruits and vegetables has been shown to increase children’s taste for them.

 Time and Financial Savings

  • Today’s convenient storage containers and food processors make preparing baby food easier than ever.
  • Many of our family recipes have fresh fruit and vegetable ingredients that can be removed and prepared just for baby before other ingredients are added, making one recipe good for the entire family.
  • Parents can spend over $300 on processed food the during their infant’s first year of life.  On the average, home-prepared baby food can cost around $55 for one year.
  • Grocery store weekly sale circulars often have a variety of fruits and vegetables on special that can be used in making your baby’s meals.
  • Buying seasonal vegetable and fruits can be more economical than buying items that are out of season.
  • Check out local co-ops and farmers’ markets. These can be a wonderful source of fresh and inexpensive fruits and vegetables.

Creating Healthy Habits

Lifelong taste preferences and eating habits are established in the first several years of life. One of the first ways babies learn is through food. Babies are born with a strong preference for sweetness and a dislike for sour and bitter tastes. As they get older, these preferences change and children learn to like and dislike certain foods. You can teach your child healthy habits by feeding and offering a variety of nutritious foods, eating well yourself, and maintaining a healthy environment.

Here are some simple tips to create healthy habits:

  • Developing good habits takes time. It requires patience and effort to establish a daily routine and commitment.
  • Studies show that the earlier children are introduced to fruit and vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them later.
  • Be conscious of serving sizes and do not serve too much. A good rule of thumb for portion size is one tablespoon for every year of age.
  • Offer and eat a variety of nutritious foods. Stock the house and pantry with low calorie, nutritious foods. Save treats for something special, don’t keep them in plain sight or don’t buy them at all.
  • Limit snacks. Eating sporadically can eliminate the ability to sense hunger and lead to over eating. Teach yourself and your children to eat when hungry not out of boredom or emotional reasons.
  • Do not use food as a reward or to promote good behavior.
  • Do not encourage eating during other activities such as watching television or riding in the car which can lead to overeating.
  • Eat at regular mealtimes with three meals and two snacks daily.
  • Eat as a family and make mealtime enjoyable. Family meals not only encourage better diets they also reinforces family relationships.