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Starting solids is both exciting and nerve racking as a parent. At times it can feel like information overload coming from all directions: friends and family, medical providers, and social media. My goal is to help make this exciting time in your child’s development as stress free as possible (sorry- I won’t claim it to be totally stress free!). Here are my top 5 tips for starting solids:

Tip #1: Complete CPR/First aid training before starting solids

CPR/first aid training is a non-negotiable for me when starting solids. I encourage all parents and caregivers to take a course. If you’ve completed the training in the past it’s still a good idea to get a refresher. Guidelines can change with time (this was true for me at my last training!). Not only can this be lifesaving, but it also can help to reduce anxiety you may feel about serving solid foods to your baby. It’s so important to know the difference between gagging and choking, and how to respond in the event your baby does choke on a food. You can find a CPR/first aid training near you through the Red Cross here.

Tip #2: Allow your baby to self-feed

Many of us envision the classic airplane of food being sent to a baby’s mouth at mealtimes, but this is actually not the best approach to feeding baby. When serving foods to baby I recommend allowing them to feed themselves whenever possible. This allows them to follow their own hunger and fullness cues. This is a feeding approach known as responsive feeding. Self-feeding is often times messy, but it also allows baby to explore their food and helps to strengthen their fine motor skills.

Many people assume self-feeding can only be done if you are following a baby led weaning approach (BLW), but that’s not the case. If you’re following a traditional spoon feeding approach to starting solids and offering your baby purees you can still allow them to self-feed by giving pre-loaded spoons. Some of my favorite spoons and starting solids essentials can be found on my Amazon Storefront. Sure, there are times where spoon feeding your baby may be necessary (such as when you’re eating away from home and want to minimize the mess), but if circumstances allow let your baby take the lead!

Tip #3: Don’t be alarmed if they don’t eat as much as you may have expected

Each baby develops on their own timeline, and eating is no exception to this. Starting solids it is a whole new world for them and takes time to get acclimated. Each baby is different. Some may dive right in from day 1 and others may take weeks to progress on intake. You may also find that some meals baby eats a lot and other times they seem to just play. This is all normal. But, if you have concerns about your baby’s progression of eating don’t hesitate to bring it up to your child’s medical provider. I also offer 1:1 services if you feel you could benefit from more support on the journey.

Tip #4: Eat meals as a family whenever possible

Whether you are offering your baby your family meals through baby led weaning or starting with purees you can still make a point to eat your meals as a family. This is something I strive for with my own baby whenever possible. It may alter your personal eating schedule, but if you’re able to make it happen I high recommend it. Partaking in family meals has been shown to reduce picky eating1 and improve nutrient intake2 (just to name a few benefits).

Tip #5: Don’t procrastinate introducing allergens

When your baby is ready to start solids introducing major allergens should be high on the priority list. The evidence shows early and often allergen exposure can actually reduce the risk of developing food allergies. One of the most well known studies is the LEAP study which showed early introduction of peanuts significantly reduced risk of developing a peanut allergy.3

The top 9 major allergens include: eggs, cow’s milk/dairy, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, finned fish, shellfish, and sesame. A good time to bring up allergen introductions is at your child’s 4 or 6 month visit with their pediatrician/medical provider. This is a great time to ask questions you may have such as “is my child high risk for allergies?” or “are there any special considerations I should make before serving my baby highly allergenic foods?” Your child’s provider can give recommendations on action steps to take in the event your baby has a reaction to a food. Knowledge is power- having these questions answered and being prepared can make the allergen exposure a little less stressful.

Starting solids is such an exciting time for both parents and baby’s alike. Hopefully these tips are helpful to you as you embark on this journey. I would love to hear what questions or topics you would like me to cover in future posts in the comments!

SOURCES:

  1. Verhage CL, Gillebaart M, van der Veek SMC, Vereijken CMJL. The relation between family meals and health of infants and toddlers: A review. Appetite. 2018;127:97-109. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.010 ↩︎
  2. Hillesund ER, Sagedal LR, Bere E, Øverby NC. Family meal participation is associated with dietary intake among 12-month-olds in Southern Norway. BMC Pediatr. 2021;21(1):128. Published 2021 Mar 15. doi:10.1186/s12887-021-02591-6 ↩︎
  3. Du Toit G, Roberts G, Sayre PH, et al. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy [published correction appears in N Engl J Med. 2016 Jul 28;375(4):398]. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(9):803-813. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1414850 ↩︎