(This is a stereotypical mommy post. You’ve been warned.)
For whatever reason, starting solid foods with Everett seemed like The Biggest Deal to me. I never thought twice about his nutrition before that because well, duh, breastmilk is good for babies. I didn’t have to think about it. I had to buy different bras, wear different clothes, invest in a breast pump, and plan my solo outings accordingly, but I didn’t have to think about it.
But solid foods? Oh, my. Should I make my own? Buy store-bought? Organic? Non-organic? How much should I give him? How often should I give it to him? How will this affect breastfeeding? How will this affect POOP?
I’m laid back about a lot of things, but I had minor anxiety about starting Everett on solid foods. Now that we’ve been on the solid food train for three months, I thought I would share some tips, tricks, and things I wish I would have known about starting solids…
1. Your baby might hate everything at first. The only food Everett embraced at first taste was banana. With everything else he coughed and gagged and looked at me like I was poisoning him. This too shall pass. Everett now loves just about everything we give him, with the exception of a few choice green vegetables (which, let’s be honest, I hate too).
2. If you decide to make homemade baby food, know that it is a lot of work, especially once they’re eating solids 2-3 times a day. Also, nobody will give you a trophy for doing it. The effort that goes into washing, peeling, steaming, and pureeing vegetables/fruits is time consuming. Having said that, it is relatively easy to do and can be cost effective with certain foods (note: apples are not cost effective, I learned that one the hard way and we now buy natural applesauce). If you do decide to make your own baby food, I’ve used this book and this website.
3. Make large batches at a time. Think you’re going to puree a single fresh banana every morning for your baby to eat for breakfast? Think again. Do yourself a favor and puree 4 bananas and freeze the leftovers (note: bananas and pears will freeze brown and it’s totally okay). We use these storage jars and this multiportion tray, and I highly recommend both! If fancy baby products aren’t your thing, I’ve heard an ice cube tray works just as well. We usually make a few batches of baby food on Sundays so I don’t have to worry about prepping his food throughout the week.
4. Cloth bibs are a waste of time. No, really. My friend Sharon gave me a nice waterproof bib at my baby shower and even though it wasn’t on my registry, it was one of the best gifts I received. Once you’re feeding your baby solid foods 2-3 times a day, you go through bibs like crazy. And unless you plan to do a laundry load of bibs every single day, your cloth bibs will sit in the laundry hamper covered in apricot mush, eventually resulting in: apricot mush on other things, and stains on the bib that won’t ever come out. I don’t use any cloth bibs anymore, only bibs that can be wiped off. These superbibs are awesome, and you’ll want at least three. To recap: cloth bibs are good for drool, they are not good for food.
5. Know your boundaries, and don’t feel guilty if you use store-bought baby food. My boundary was meat, and I drew the line at pureeing ground turkey. No thank you. Off to Target we went, bought 8 jars of organic turkey/organic chicken, and Ev loved it. Done and done.
6. Start slowly, increase slowly. We started one solid meal a day at 6 months, and I didn’t change our breastfeeding schedule at all (I was nursing him 5 times a day, every 3 hours). At 7 months, we added a solid meal, and I kept nursing the same. At 8 months, we added another solid meal and dropped one nursing session. That is what worked best for us, but obviously every mom and baby are different. Our solid meals started at a couple of tablespoons (if that) and now Everett eats about 1/2 cup-3/4 cup per meal. My only advice for the how much/how often question is: go slowly, and go with your instinct (and talk to a pediatrician if weight loss/weight gain is an issue).
7. Make it a routine. If your baby likes routine (and I realize not all do), make eating part of that routine. For us, that routine involves two things: time and location. We do our best to make sure Everett eats his breakfast/lunch/dinner around the same time every day, at the table. We use this booster seat and love it (can’t beat $26!).
8. Variety is overrated. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the more tastes baby are exposed to at first, the less picky they will be as adults. I’m calling hogwash. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but the point is: don’t give yourself anxiety over variety. Everett eats rice cereal and bananas every single morning. Who cares? At one point I caught myself feeling guilty over the fact that Everett had eaten the same solid meal three nights in a row, and for what? He liked it! He has his entire life to try new foods; it’s not my responsibility to introduce him to every taste under the sun before he turns 9 months old. Note: when you first start solid foods, doctors recommend waiting at least 3 days before introducing a new one in case of allergies. Everett is almost 9 months old and so far he’s tried: bananas, avocados, carrots, applesauce, zucchini, peas, asparagus, butternut squash, chicken, turkey, apricots, pears, broccoli, squash, green beans, and pumpkin. Some of those he’s tried once or twice, some he eats all the time. Whatever.
9. Don’t rush the puffs. Per my pediatrician’s recommendation, I started giving Ev puffs at 7 months. He was not ready. He coughed and choked and couldn’t handle it. I waited a couple weeks and tried again. He still wasn’t ready. Then, novel idea, I read the puffs container (mother of the year award!) and low and behold—there are instructions. A whole list of criteria babies should meet before they try puffs. Duh. So I waited until Everett met most of those and tried again. Success. Now there are puffs everywhere. The floor, his armpit, bottom of his sock. If you give your baby 6 puffs and they disappear, that doesn’t mean they’ve been eaten. And you’ll figure this out quickly when you find a puff stuck to your baby’s chin on a day when you have NOT given them puffs. I don’t even want to know where he found that.
Mommas, any tips to share? Any other questions? As always, I am not an expert or a pediatrician….just a first-time mom sharing what worked for us.