is your baby ready for solids?
follow baby’s cues, not the calendar
In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised their recommendation to suggest that babies should be exclusively breast-fed from birth until six months. In fact, Dr. Alan Greene states that babies can be exclusively breast-fed much longer if they are receiving enough vitamin D and Iron (although this is usually not the case, due to dietary preferences and limited exposure to sunlight). Dr. Greene recommends waiting to introduce solids until baby is at least four months old. Until then, baby’s digestive system simply can’t handle anything other than breast milk or formula. Once it’s time, though, you can begin filling out your baby’s diet with the complex nutrients and flavor profiles of real, wholesome—and preferably organic—foods. Babies benefit from the exposure to new flavors and textures that solid foods provide. To ease the transition, you’ll ideally continue breast-feeding while your baby starts solid foods. As you introduce the first solids to your baby, there are a few foods you will want to avoid. You should avoid honey and raw dairy completely until at least one year to avoid potential exposure to botulism spores. Raw and undercooked fish and raw eggs should also be avoided. Since choking hazards are also a concern at this age, start with thin purees and move up to thicker and chunkier textures as baby progresses. Stay away from foods that are hard or large in size, such as popcorn and grapes. Vegetables larger than a pea can get stuck in your baby’s throat. When will you know it’s time to start introducing solids to your baby? Dr. Greene strongly encourages parents to look at their baby, not a calendar, to determine if it’s time to move on from breast milk or formula. Here are some developmental milestones from four to six months that will let you know when to start introducing solids to your baby:
- Baby is able to sit up or start to sit up
- Baby can coordinate all the muscles involved in swallowing
- Baby shows interest in eating through body language. For example, she may lean forward to look at you when you are taking a bite, or fuss and wriggle when she sees you eating
- Baby seems hungry even after she has had enough breast milk or formula. Often this starts to happen after baby has reached 13 lbs, or double her birth weight