I spend much of my work week preparing parents for a big step in their child’s development: starting solid foods. Two things I hear, consistently, is that parents are anxious about taking this leap forward because they are confused by all of the information out there! I have written here before about new regulations around what to introduce, and when. Although it’s not that different, the trend toward meat as a first food is reiterated once again. Recently, newer guidelines about both feeding and drinking (what cups to use) were released by Health Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada. You can read about this new report, and what it recommends, on the SproutRight.com blog.
Here are 4 ways to approach weaning your baby to solid foods, minus the stress.
1. Take Things Slow
Often parents are really excited that baby is now mature enough (6 months) to experiment with solid foods. They get off at a runner’s pace, introducing one food after another, after another. My best tip is to stop and take things slowly. Introduce a food once every 3-4 days and monitor your baby’s response to that new food, both from a taste standpoint and to monitor any allergic or sensitivity reaction. Begin solid-food eating by introducing just one meal a day; at this early stage your baby’s primary nutrition is from breastmilk or formula. Offer milk first then food within an hour after. Take things slowly, one step at a time and don’t impose any deadlines on your child’s progression.
2. Take Cues from Your Baby
One way to take things at the right pace is to watch for cues from your baby. When you put yourself in tune with her needs and wants, you make this process about her. This is a big event in her life. Let her explore her food as she wants to – fingers squishing butternut squash around, sure! Progress to the next food when you know that she’s good with that one (about four days). Our children are wonderful at self-regulation. They will tell you when they are hungry, or have had enough!
3. Remember Your Baby is Unique
Sometimes we as parents are guilty of playing the compare game; that’s when we compare our child’s development to another baby’s progression. Some of the stress parents experience when their child starts solid foods has to do with the parent’s own expectations, which they learn from reading about or learning from other parents what is age-appropriate. I am not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to milestones and guidelines, but always remind yourself that your child is unique. If she needs a long time to move on from first purees, but your neighbor’s little boy is already on chunky foods, that’s ok!
4. Know When to Ask for Help
Let’s face it; knowing what to feed your child is a confusing process. And all of these new guidelines, and often conflicting ideas being shared by professionals you trust, just complicates things. Trust yourself that you know what is right for your child, and then turn to a health professional when you are just not sure. You can always tweet a question using the hashtag #AskSproutRight. I would be happy to answer your question through social media or in our enewsletter. Also, talk with the moms you meet at momstown events, post a question on the momstown Facebook or the message boards. Build a wonderful community of supportive parents who can share with you what has worked for them.