Starting Solids in a Positive Way
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDE, CEDRD, CDN
If you ask a hundred pediatricians or dietitians how to start feeding your baby, I can almost guarantee you’d get a hundred different responses. Some professionals believe in baby purees, while others believe in baby-led weaning. Some professionals say start with rice cereal, others say avocado or even sweet potato. Even when to start feeding your baby solid foods is debatable (although most people would agree between 4–6 months). I felt confused as a new mom—and I’m a dietitian!!
I got the go-ahead to start feeding from my pediatrician at my son’s four-month checkup, and we started a week later. I knew with my mom’s intuition that it really didn’t matter what food we started with—we would eventually figure out a good plan. However, I really wanted to start off with feeding in a positive way, knowing that these were amazing habits to keep for the whole family. I’m definitely not perfect, but here are some guidelines I’m attempting to follow:
1. Just like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, I’m trying to learn his hunger and fullness cues when it comes to solids. I remind myself that when he gets annoyed and doesn’t open his mouth, he’s full and the meal is over (even if there is a lot of food left).Photo Credit: Parker Knight via Compfight cc
2. I’m doing my best to limit distractions like having the TV on in the background or toys nearby. Just like adults, children get distracted by their surroundings.
3. I’m usually eating with my baby during a feeding. When he sees me eat, he tries to grab what I’m eating. It’s never too early to start sharing meals together, even if (for now) we’re eating different foods.
4. I’m dedicated to spreading positive messages about food, including what I say about my own food choices and my own body in front of my child. My five-month-old may not understand this, but other people I’m with everyday certainly do. I want my son to grow up learning about health in a way that makes him feel good about his choices and confident about his body. It’s never too early to make this a priority.