Ask other moms for advice: Goddess in Progress emphasized the importance of seeking out information from other moms. Be they MOT’s or moms of singletons (MOS’s?), they are a great resource. I learned about the wonderful baby mummum from another MOT. Now, we order them by the case from Amazon. I learned about the joys of rice krispies as a first finger food from my sister-in-law, who already had two kids. Covering slippery foods like avocado and banana with wheat germ or cheerio crumbs? From another mom.
Talk to your pediatrician: Each pediatrician has a slightly different recommendation about how to introduce solids and which allergens to wait on. For example, mine wanted us to wait until 12 months for wheat, berries, eggs, honey, fish, shellfish and milk. Nuts and peanuts are an even longer wait. Check with your pediatrician about their recommendations.
Decide what age to start solids: This is another issue where pediatricians differ. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months to start solids, as did the lactation consultant who ran our breastfeeding group. Several of the HDYDI moms waited until six months. I can speak for myself in that I waited both because of the recommendations AND because I really couldn’t face having one more thing to do each day. And let’s face it, solids are more work, at least at first. As time went on, we got used to the extra work, but at first, ugh.
See solids as an “activity”, not sustinence: Up until 9-12 months, solids are about learning how to eat, and this kind of eating is more of an activity and less about sustinence. If the babies aren’t interested, the moms of HDYDI recommend not getting flustered, just stopping the meal and trying again next time. Even now, at 14 months, my babies will sometimes eat everything in sight, and other times be totally disinterested in all but a bite or two. Not a big deal. Babies are at different stages of readiness, even at six months. Check out my kids’ reactions to rice cereal for the first time—Daniel is horrified by this new development but you could almost see Abigail saying, “Oh, finally!! I’ve been waiting for this! What took you so long! More! More!”
Do bottles/breastfeeding first, then solids: Because solids are not the main source of nourishment at this age, many of the HDYDI moms found that doing bottles or breastfeeding (the main source of nutrition and nutrients) BEFORE a solid feeding, rather than after, was the best way to go. One mom reported their intake of formula was down at first, because solids came before the bottle. When she switched the order, formula intake went back to normal. Obviously, as you near a year, the importance of this decreases, but at first it helps make the transition as seemless as possible.
Add solids in to your schedule about when you’d like to do meals: Several HDYDI moms recommended this plan from the start (maybe starting with a “breakfast”, adding in “dinner” and then “lunch”). We started with two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, partially because they were already six months old and seemed quite interested in food. Others stuck with one meal for a while before moving up to two. Let your kiddos guide you.
It’s about having fun : They may not both be ready at first and they may make the most awful faces—check out the pictures of both my Daniel and Godness in Progress’s Daniel for images of babies unsure of what this stuff is. Have fun. Be amused. If it takes a while for them to get it, just enjoy it. Both Daniels grew to enjoy those first solid foods (cereal & sweet potatoes). Maybe make some food. Have fun with new foods.
Timing: If you’re both working parents, try starting foods on weekend mornings. It makes introductions slow, but it avoids the possibility of an allergic reaction at daycare. The same goes for introducing new foods in the morning instead of at night. A close family friend introduced a bottle of formula to her baby for the first time at the nighttime feeding—and woke the next morning to a baby covered in hives. An experience to avoid, if you can. Even though I’m a SAHM, we started the first few new foods on weekends or holidays so that their daddy wouldn’t miss the experience. It was fun, it was new—he wanted to be there. (He did miss the gagging and vomiting of peas for the first time. Ugh. Not that I have any different a reaction to peas, but really, how graphic! Of course now, they eat peas like champs).
Regular meals take a while: The general agreement that it takes until 8-9 months for babies to have three “regular” meals a day. I have to say, I think I put off the introduction of solids a bit too long….at 8.5 months I moved from a post-nap solid snack schedule to solids before each nap and dinner….and my kids started sleeping an extra hour for each nap. Oops. I guess they were hungry. The lesson is, you sometimes have to tinker with your schedule to find out what works. I’m guilty of being nervous about messing with something that is (kind of) working for us. Experiment. Find what works best for your kids.
TIP: Read Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter–it’s a book that talks about how to handle “picky eaters” and how to avoid creating food issues. A must read for all parents, but especially those who are just starting solid foods. Why not just avoid food issues from the start?