When I started solids, I was terrified. Mostly, I worried that my son would take to them so easily, he’d forget he needed me. He’d scoff at the offering of my nipple, placed before him, and demand carrots instead! A little more realistically, I worried he’d have allergic reactions to absolutely everything. I worried he would choke, I worried he would hate the food and fight me on every bite. I worried a lot.
Every parent has anxieties over the prospect of starting solids. There are so many fears, some of which are obvious (choking) while others may not rear their ugly heads until you’re feeding your first spoonful. Am I doing this wrong? And when you’re a momma battling anxiety, other fears show up unannounced: Will my baby love it? Hate it? What if my baby loves it so much he refuses to nurse? What if he no longer needs me?
If you’re about to start solids, I assure you, any fear you’ve felt, I’ve probably experienced as well. Luckily for you, I’ve now been there and can give you some comfort and advice. Here’s the lowdown on starting solids (especially if you’re anxiety-ridden, like me).
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1) Decide When You’ll Start Solids
You need to consult your doctor on this one. But the latest recommendations are for starting solids at six months (Article from the World Health Organization). Do your research, talk to your doctor, know the recommendations, and pick what will work best for your family. Personally, our doctor gave the green light at 4 months, but I waited till 6 because that is the new guideline. I’m glad I waited, but I understand every situation is different. You’ll find no judgment here.
2) Get Comfortable with Your Method of Starting Solids
This is so important. There’s baby led weaning, purées (traditional), or some mixture of the two. Normally I wouldn’t recommend an anxious momma go down the Google wormhole, but you need to do your research before deciding what to do. Don’t wait till it’s time to start! Here are some links to help guide you.
3) To Cereal or Not to Cereal…
Will you do cereal or skip it entirely? If you opt for cereal, what kind will you use? Decide all of this ahead of time. Of course, I’ll give some resources:
For us, we started with oatmeal. A lot of people (our doctor included) recommend starting with rice cereal as there is very little chance of an allergic reaction. However, after reading about the general lack of benefits to rice cereal, my gut just told me to go with oatmeal. I absolutely don’t think people feeding their baby rice cereal are doing anything wrong. Again, it was just a personal decision for me.
4) Figure Out How You’ll Acquire the Food
Will you make it? Buy it? Batch cook it? Prepare as needed? Know so that you can prepare. I opted to batch cook, but we’ve also bought baby food. Just read the ingredients. Most brands are simply a fruit/veggie + water, but some have other ingredients, so pick what you’re comfortable with! The most expensive baby food isn’t necessarily the best, nor is the cheapest necessarily the worst. Here is a link to a great resource on batch cooking food!
5) High Chair Research
You’ll need a high chair for all of this yummy food to be eaten in. You’ve got a ton of options, depending on your needs. There are chairs that fold up for easy storage (great for small spaces), cushioned high chairs, grow-with-me high chairs, and chairs that attach directly to the table. My biggest tip is to consider ease of cleaning and the amount of space you have. Rather than opt for the most trendy chair, ask yourself, “Will I be able to clean this easily? Do I have space for this?” Trust me, you will be cleaning it often. Please don’t get a chair that is a pain in the ass to clean.
6) Set Realistic Expectations
The first two weeks of our food journey, my son barely ate a thing. That is okay! Honestly, it’s normal and to be expected. I tried not to stress about it (“food before one is just for fun” as they say) but I’d read infant meal plans that said their six month olds were eating 1/4 cup of purées per meal, twice a day. I worried that perhaps I should’ve started my son at 4 months. But guess what? Two weeks later, he started opening his mouth when the spoon came near him. And a week after that, he started trying to guide the spoon (without great success) to his mouth himself. He’s 7 months old now and still not eating 1/4 cup per meal. He’s gaining weight just fine. He’s enjoying his meals. And that’s what matters.
6) Honor Your Anxiety, Take Things Slow
Just because your neighbor started her daughter on solids around the same time as you doesn’t mean you should expect both babies to progress at similar rates. Even if you know the recommendation is to wait three days before adding a new food, if you want to wait 10 days, go ahead. Take things slowly and honor your anxiety (to a point). As long as your baby is thriving, there is no rule that you must feed a certain amount by a certain age. Recommendations vary wildly!
7) Don’t *Give In* to Anxiety
Don’t let your fears rob you and your baby of the amazing experiences you can both have. There is a fine line between honoring your anxiety and being a slave to it. Try new foods, but don’t ever hesitate to reach out to your doctor if something worries you. Experiment with textures, but don’t move faster than what you’re comfortable with. Play with different ideas, but don’t commit to any plan you’re not confident in.
Overall, the best plan of action is whichever plan a) is okayed by your doctor and b) you feel good about. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. As long as your baby is progressing properly, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing baby led weaning or Gerber jars. As long as momma and baby are happy, it doesn’t matter if baby’s first food was oatmeal or avocado. Do what works for your family, always.
What are your plans for starting solids? If this article helped you, please share it with anyone that might need it!