When is the best time to transition your baby to solid foods? Find out the cues to help plan the transition away from breast milk or formula.
Rarely do you have a "light bulb moment" when you know that your child is ready for solids. Each child is different, but knowing the cues is the best way for a parent to plan the transition from breast milk or formula to foods that represent the start of a lifelong journey into the remarkable world of taste, texture, smell, and visual curiosity.
Most babies begin to exhibit cues around six months of age. It is important to note that different pediatricians have different recommendations about when and what to start with, so consult with the person you trust.
As a general rule, developmental readiness for solids occurs when your baby shows visible interest in food. They may watch you eat intently, imitate chewing motions, or reach for your food.
Your baby should have good head control, the ability to sit without being supported, and have lost the tongue-thrusting reflex; the ability to remove food from the spoon without it all dribbling out.
A further sign is when your baby has the ability to pick up objects using fine motor skills with finger and thumb, known as ‘pincer grasp’.
Introducing Solids: Sorting Fact from Fiction
It is important for parents to be aware of certain myths that have grown up around the introduction of solids, among them:
Myth #1: Begin solids when your baby has reached a particular age or weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend starting solids “around six months of age”. The introduction of solids is a developmental milestone (not based on age or weight).
Myth #2: Babies who consume solids will sleep longer at night. Babies wake during the night for a number of reasons (sleep associations, sleep regression, etc.), even when they are already consuming solids.
Myth #3: Avoid allergenic foods. New NIH and AAP guidelines promote introducing certain allergenic foods early. In fact, recent landmark studies suggest that the avoidance of allergenic foods may put your child at a greater risk for developing food allergies. Refer any concerns to a trusted professional.
Challenges of Introducing Solids
Having made the decision to introduce solids, parents are faced with a new set of challenges and possibilities. It can be as daunting as it is exciting. When my husband and I began introducing solids to our daughter, we were dismayed at what we saw as the pitfalls of commercially-available foods.
Many popular brands use additives, preservatives, or high heat, which can have an adverse effect on vital nutrients, enzymes, and healthy bacteria that pediatricians and nutritionists agree are critical for a baby’s healthy growth and development.
These are necessary because it can take two years from the time of manufacture to the time it reaches the consumer. But they are hardly the gold standard when it comes to setting up your child for their future relationship with food.
Homemade baby products are usually the best, because parents control which ingredients are used, the cooking process, and the method of storage. But as most parents with babies and toddlers will tell you, time is usually in very short supply.
Tummy Thyme and Ready. Set. Food! : Organic and Additive-Free
Because of our concerns, we decided to create our own food with an emphasis on what we believed were the fundamentals of healthy eating; fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and non-GMO proteins. The women in my Mommy and Me groups quickly expressed interest and we went from making food for our child to making it for countless other children. But the fundamentals stayed the same and Tummy Thyme was born.
Preservatives, additives, and other nasties can put pressure on a baby’s immune system. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Ready. Set. Food! - the only multi-allergen introduction system that is all-organic, non-GMO, additive-free, and contains only three ingredients- peanut, egg, and milk. Together, we’re excited to give families the tools to enjoy food to the fullest!
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