When should I introduce solid foods to my baby?

emma peas

        I don’t know about you, but I hear a lot of conflicting information about when I should introduce solid foods to my baby. I have heard different people, including physicians, recommending starting solids at different ages. In 2012, I took a week long lactation course and one of the topics we touched on was the introduction of solid foods for babies. I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics or AAP was currently recommending exclusive breastfeeding for the 6 months of a baby’s life, and continued with the introduction of complimentary foods (solids) at 6 months.

        I recently read a blog post from the baby center blog recommending starting solid foods at 4 months. I have also seen the print on the baby food jars at the market stamped saying to start using at 4 months. I thought the recommendations might have changed since my class and did some research at www.aap.org and www.who.int to see what the most up to date information is on infant solids is. The AAP currently recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and starting solids around 6 months. Continued breastfeeding is also recommended until at least 1 year of life. The World Health Organization states “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”

        Solids should also not make up the bulk of your infant’s diet. Solids are complementary and contribute very little caloric value in the beginning. The smallest size baby food jar is approximately 45-60 calories for the entire jar and babies initially don’t eat that much of it. The AAP recommends offering your baby a variety of healthy foods and different textures. Most doctors recommend adding 1 new food at a time and waiting between 3-7 days before introducing another food, to make sure your infant tolerates each food well. The AAP website says that babies starting on solids need only 1-2 Tablespoons in the beginning. They also suggest to parents that an infant may need to be given a new food 10-15 times before they will want to eat it. To avoid waste spoon baby food in a dish and don’t feed baby directly from the jar, so the excess in the jar can be saved and refrigerated.

        After getting all my facts straight, I feel less pressured about solids. We waited until 6 months to introduce solids and my sweet girl hasn’t been crazy about them at all. She has tried peas, bananas, and sweet potatoes. She isn’t crazy about any of them but seems to tolerate sweet potatoes the best. I was a little stressed that she wasn’t taking much (especially when I saw the size of the jars). However, now I know she is completely normal. She tries a little baby food once a day and only eats a few bites at a time. She will eat more as she gets used to it. In the meantime she will eat what she likes best, mommas milk, and apparently it comes highly recommended!

        For more information on introducing solids into your babies diet, visit www.aap.org and/or www.who.int. Recommendations do change so do your research when your baby is getting to the milestone and thanks for reading!

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