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I got a question about starting solids with babies; and while there are several ways to approach this, here is what has always worked for our children so far.
First off, we always introduce solids very gradually. Pushing solids is a bad idea, as is abrupt weaning/restriction of nursing to get baby to eat solids. Breast milk is a lot more nutritionally balanced than almost every kind of typical baby food.
We never bought ready-made baby food. I don’t see why anyone would buy those tiny, overpriced jars (unless you’re going on a long trip with poor refrigeration facilities). We never thought to look up recipes, either – we simply improvised. As you dive into it, you’ll see making baby food is easy and fun.
We usually start giving tiny tastes of mashed or blended fruit and veggies at around five months, though solids don’t make a full meal until around 6-7 months. Mashed banana makes a good first food, and babies love it (though a few years down the road, they don’t believe me when I tell them they once did!). After introducing each new food, we wait several days to make sure there’s no adverse reaction. After we try an array of foods, we start making mixtures and smoothies using a blender.
I know it is often recommended to give the baby cooked fruit, but generally, we gave it raw (apples, pears, plums) and only cooked/baked veggies (sweet potato, zucchini, pumpkin). I never saw that it disagreed with our babies.
Many grandparents and pediatricians think that cereals are a good choice for baby’s first food at 5-6 months, but at that point, the amylases in our digestive system aren’t fully mature yet and it doesn’t do good to overload baby with starches. Fruit and vegetables are far better as first foods.
As our babies grew older, we felt more and more comfortable to simply take a fork, mash whatever is on our own plate and give it to them. However, up to one year, we avoid foods that are considered allergenic (such as fish, eggs, peanut butter, etc).
When I make baby food, I don’t add salt or spices, but when we feed babies off our plate we don’t avoid salt, though we steer clear of very spicy foods and artificial taste additives. As much as possible, for as long as possible, we avoid giving foods with added sugar, and fake foods such as morning cereals. Sugar is addictive, and once kids have a taste of it, they grow into sugar junkies.
Gradually, our babies grew out of baby foods. Bit by bit, they moved on to soft finger foods, learned to use a spoon and cup, and joined the family table as equal members. I look forward to the expression of pleasure and interest that will appear on Hadassah’s face when she first tastes solids, but I do so love this special time of exclusively breastfeeding her.
6 thoughts on “Starting solids: our experience”
Years ago, over 40 now, we found some little hand grinder thing you could take everywhere with you…so it lived in the diaper bag, and then we ground up whatever we were eating, in restaurants etc, once he had some teeth. We of course, did not know in those days that grains ought not to be consumed till those back chewing teeth were in….and of course, all our kids have allergies too. They might have anyway…but we simply did not know. The internet is not all good, but it is good in that more information is now available to most of us. We also had some baby food in jars from the store…but being poor then, believe me, mostly it was whatever we were eating. So there can be some advantages actually in having less money I suppose…at least with food. I made a lot of the clothes for myself and the children then too. Actually, there was very little to buy for boys at least and my son was long bodied so it rather forced me to make some of his clothing for it to fit correctly. I also sewed some things for my husband from time to time…and others…I am not sure where I found the time actually…I guess I just missed sleep to do it while the rest were asleep. I did survive.
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I do so love reading first-hand testimonies of how things had been! I’m sure it’s a good reminder for us spoiled modern moms.
Your post takes me way back to my teen years and earlier. I Remember my mother feeding the babies off her plate. She would mash a little food and usually add a little formula to it and feed it to them. Memories I had forgotten.
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Actually nearly every mom I know does the same thing around here 🙂
I nursed my girls exclusively for six months, and then had to start with a bottle, because I had to go back to work. I used a milk, water and sweetener formula, which they now say is not safe! Generations of babes lived on it and they all survived! The original formula called for Karo syrup, which I didn’t trust, so I used honey instead. When I started the girls on solid foods I also prepared whatever it was we were eating, and they did fine. When the girls wanted to feed themselves I handed them a baby fork; they had an easier time stabbing things than trying to scoop them up with a spoon.
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Yes, science and health awareness have sure advanced! My husband and his siblings were raised on cow’s milk almost from birth. They all survived, too, but surely this wasn’t optimal for their health.