Monday, March 5, 2012

Easy-Peezy Purees: The Whys and Hows of Transitioning Your Little One to Solids

The Whys and Hows of Transitioning Your Baby to Solids
Stage 1: 4-6 months – Start off Slowly

Homemade Pea and Carrot Puree - YUMMY!

When? There is really no rush in introducing solids to your baby’s diet. I’ve found it’s better to let your child guide you as to when they are ready. I know with my first baby, I was always anxiously awaiting the next stage in her development. It was exciting to see her grow up. So as soon as she turned 4 months old, I was ready – spoon in hand – to start. I quickly found out she was not ready, and I had to put it off for another week or two. There are three signs your baby may be ready for solids:
  1. They are interested in what you are eating. They begin to notice when you are eating, and stare down your plate of food. They become curious as to what it could be, and are interested in trying it for themselves.
  2. They lose their “tongue thrust” reflex. All babies are born with a reflex to push things out of their mouth using their tongue. It’s to protect them from choking hazards. Think about the first time you gave a pacifier to your baby – they pushed it right out of their mouth. The tongue thrust reflex tends to disappear between 4 and 5 months of age.
  3. They can hold their head up. They aren’t expected to sit up on their own yet, but they should be able to support the weight of their heads.
What Kind of Food? You have options on what to start your baby out with first. The key is that it is extremely smooth in texture, and pretty runny. No course or chunky purees or food! In regard to what category of food to start with – single grain cereal vs. fruit vs. vegetable - every person you speak to on this topic will have a different answer. One person will start strictly with single grain cereal. Another will skip the cereal and start with pureed bananas. And a third person will start with pureed carrots. What that tells me is that it doesn’t really matter. As long as all three – single grain cereal, fruits and vegetables – are a part of your baby’s diet, it doesn’t really matter in which order you introduce them. My daughter wanted nothing to do with plain rice cereal, so I decided to mix some pea puree into it and she gobbled it up. My son on the other hand LOVED the oatmeal cereal and still eats it plain some days. The key is to get a good variety and try to include an iron-fortified single grain cereal (i.e. rice, oatmeal, barley) into their meals at least once each day – either mixed with a puree or served separately.
Keep in Mind:

* Any of the Essential 17 foods are fine to feed your baby in Stage 1 (Read about the Essential 17 here: )

* Introduce one food at a time – no mixtures until you have established your child’s sensitivities and/or allergies.

* Stay with the same food for at least 3 days in a row (i.e. carrots). Then, you can switch to another food (i.e. bananas) for three days. Then the next (i.e. peas). And you can always go back to previous foods that passed the “three day test”.
* Once they have a good base of allergy-free foods and have gotten down the idea of eating, you can begin mixing flavors (i.e. carrots and peas). I gave it a month of single foods before I tried any combos.
How Much and How Often? In Stage 1, solids are a supplement to a liquid diet (either breast milk or formula). Solids shouldn’t be replacing a meal at this point. It’s more about the baby getting used to the idea of eating than actually taking in much nourishment from the food. Nourishment is a bonus. The majority of their calories should still be coming from the breast milk or bottle. With that said, don’t expect your baby to eat a bowl full of puree right off the bat. The first few times you feed him solids, he may only eat a teaspoon or two. And most of that may end up on his bib. Since it’s not replacing a meal, it’s not a big deal. He is still getting all the nourishment he needs from his liquid feedings. Slowly build up the amount he is eating. A single serving of 4 tablespoons should be adequate, but if your child seems to want more, go ahead and offer an additional tablespoon or two. During Stage 1, solids once a day is fine. Near the end of Stage 1, your baby may be eating close to 2 servings (approximately 6-8 tablespoons) in one sitting. At that point, you’ve probably noticed he wants to drop a liquid feeding as well. Now that he is eating more solids and getting calories from the delicious purees you are making, it is normal that he would need to consume less breast milk or formula.

What Time of Day? The exact timeframe is up to you and your baby, but I recommend two things to make your life a lot easier:
1. Don’t try and feed him solids when he is starving, like right after a nap. Give him a bit of breast milk or formula to help fill his tummy a bit. Then try a few bites of solids. Then finish up his liquid meal.

2. Don’t try and feed him solids during a typically fussy time of day. You want your baby in the best mood possible. Forcing him to try the food when he’s in a bad mood is going to end with you both in tears. Trust me on this one : )

With both my children, I added solids to their 10:00 a.m. liquid feeding. They were happy, alert and interested in trying something new. It was after their morning nap, so they were well rested. It also helps to establish a pattern – they look forward to this new experience! When it’s time to add in another feeding (Stage 2: 7-8 mos), you can add it in the evening (I chose the 5:00 p.m. feeding). And then once they are ready for 3 meals a day (Stage 3: 9-12 mos), you can add in a lunch-time meal and you’re all set with a regular schedule.

Be sure to click here - - to read all the posts on making your own baby food and purees! It will be an easy way to keep track and look for new updates!
Or follow the links below to all my other posts on making homemade baby food and purees:
Easy-Peezy Purees - What You Need to Get Started:

The Basics of Making Homemade Baby Food - How to Puree:
Easy-Peezy Purees - The Essential 17 Fruits and Veggies Every Mama Needs to Know:

Easy-Peezy Homemade Baby Food and Purees - Foods to Avoid:
The Whys and Hows of Transitioning Your Little One to Solids: