Miss K turned 6 month and started her solid food earlier this week, it was a bitter sweet moment that she is officially growing up and took another step towards being adult-like. I wanted her to be my sweet, milk-drinking little angel forever, but I suppose we have to come to terms that this is not going to happen. When Prince A (PA) started solid, he was my first child so I did a lot of homework, research, read books, forums and group chats on baby food. If you google “starting solids” you will not find shortages of expert opinions, studies, and guidance on that topic. While everything is educational and sound, every baby is different, every mom is different; we can do our best to adapt to those advice into hands on practices but no first solid experience is exactly the same.
A few of my girlfriends also happened to have babies close to Miss K’s age and we’ve exchanged conversations on when to start solid food, what they feed their babies, what I fed PA and recipes, exchanged ideas on getting their babies to eat. Some babies loves everything and others seems to take a longer time to enjoy the feeding. While I am no expert on the matter, being a mom second time around does give me an upper hand in this matter; you go in knowing what to anticipate and eliminate the frou-frou things that you did the first time that didn’t really yield success. I’ve seen the feeding subject being discussed quite a bit on a few mommy boards on Facebook as well, so I thought I’d throw in my two cent on this and offer some thoughts. Please note that these are all based on personal trial and errors and reflect no scientific research or study that supports this. I hope this can offer some help and support for first time mommies who is nervous about starting solid food.
1. Make it a positive experience for you and your baby
Starting solids is supposed to be exciting, fun and experimental. But moms stress out a lot…a lot more than they need to be. There is no sure proof that your baby will like the food that you are offering to him/her, so don’t be discouraged if the first food you put in to his/her mouth ended up completely on the bib/floor/tray/napkin. This was the case with PA, I made steamed squash and pureed it, he spat everything out and gave this utterly disgusted face whenever I tried to offer him another bite. His video below speaks for itself. I tried giving him the same food again later that day, and he took it very well and finished everything. So don’t stress out and start making other foods that you don’t know if your baby will like. Miss K liked the first few bites of her pureed squash and peas, but then turned a sour face after. She has since liked and finished the squash as well.
2. Try to make it fresh and organic whenever you can
As a health conscious mother, I try to buy most of my fruits and veggies organic and free of pesticides. I know that organic is more pricy, and not always available, so if you are on a budget, please refer to this list of “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” on select produces should buy organic. When Prince A started solids, I made everything from scratch instead of buying the jarred, or packaged foods. I feel that it is the closest way they experience food the way us adults do, also I know exactly what I am putting into his mouth without ever having to wonder if there is a baby food recall. Remember the Plum Organics food pouch recall in 2013? If it happened to a reliable and safe brand, it could happen to any other brand.
3. Offer variety – make small batches
You may think: “Offer variety? But you just said stick to the same food on #1.” Yes, I did mention giving that food they turned away another try, however, don’t make a week’s worth of peas and expect your baby gobble it all up. Make small batches of different fruits and veggies and rotate them throughout the week. If you tried peas for two days, offer carrots on day three and four, and switch back to peas. Start something new the week after like bananas and sweet potatoes. Let your baby tell you what he/she like and does not like. Remember, make it a fun experience for you and the baby, if you don’t want to eat the same food for a week, don’t expect your baby to either.
4. Forget the rules. Your baby is the rule
There are a bunch of old school rules on how to start solids. The color theory: introduce baby food by the color of the foods from light to dark, starting with cereal and bananas and light colored to dark colored such as broccoli and collard greens. The one food at a time theory: only give one food at a time until your baby is used to it then give another. The no proteins as a first starting food: pretty self-explanatory. While I agree that starting with meats and heavy proteins is not recommended, the others not so much. What If you child loves broccoli (this was and still remains PA’s favorite food…baffles me) and doesn’t take on the cereals? What if she has a taste for purple yam and not bananas? You may never find out if you go by those rules. The rule is follow your baby’s queue, they are the ones you should listen to and follow and you can’t do that if you keep offering singular food. See #3 above.
5. Make it your own
There are many find websites that offer baby food recipes for example: wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com is a great website that I still go from time to time for recipe inspirations along with momables.com. There is also not a shortage of books that you can buy that has hundreds if not thousands of baby food recipes, whether you are Asian, American, Indian, Japanese. The same baby that eats salmon may not like tofu. Feel free to completely throw in your own ethnic spin when making baby food. In Asian culture, chicken stock is considered a stable, I often use chicken stock to boil veggies instead of regular water, it offers additional nutrition as well as a hint of flavor in lieu of the bland flavor. I also use chicken stock to make rice porridge and soft noodles as well and PA loves it! So throw in your own ethnic spin and modify the recipe you found and make it your own.
6. If you can blend it up, you can serve it
When baby first start the solids, they don’t have the swallowing motion down so they end up eating about 20-30% of the food offered and the rest goes on their faces, bibs, trays, napkin or even on you. It takes lots of practice day in and day out and eventually they get better and knows how to properly swallow their food instead of pushing it in and out with their little tongue. So blend blend blend that food. If your baby is 8 month and shows a lot of interest in the chicken sautéed you are serving, put it in the blender and try offering it to him/her. I have given A salmon, beef stew, shrimp and other “adult food” once he’s gotten that eating motion down and he LOVED it. Make sure that there are no bones in the food you are blending and also check for food allergies before you give them large servings.
Those are just a few tips based on personal experience I have had, I hope it helps first time mommies on starting baby’s first solids. Let me know what other things you mommas do when it comes to feeding your baby, I would love to hear it!