A Whole New Adventure
I remember my mom’s asking me when I was going to start baby cereal with my firstborn and my thinking, “I just got nursing down! I’m supposed to feed the baby something else already?” It was not on my radar at all yet.
Growing up babysitting and having a mom who ran an in-home daycare, I knew that babies started eating solid food. I just didn’t realize it happened so quickly. I also didn’t realize how messy and mostly how TIME COMSUMING feeding a baby a tablespoon of baby cereal would be. Let’s be real here—at first it’s feeding a liquid on a tiny flat spoon to someone who can barely hold his head up and doesn’t have any clue as to how to help you out.
Recently, there’s been some debate (as with all things baby) about when to begin baby on solid foods. Olathe mother of two Courtney Hupp says, “Our pediatrician gave us the green light to start rice cereal by spoon at 4 months. We tried at that age with both of our kids, but neither of them were ready. So aside from taking the time to get a few cute messy face pictures, we held off on any more until after they turned 6 months.”
When asked if there were any risks associated with starting babies on solid foods too soon, Ann Mattison, ARNP from Premier Pediatrics in Overland Park said, “There aren’t any risks. They just usually developmentally aren’t ready and so they won’t take it.” As for adding cereal to bottles, Mattison says, “The reason you do the cereal is for oral development. It helps with their speech development, and so that’s why we do the solids with a spoon rather than putting the cereal in the bottle.”
Traditionally, rice infant cereal is the first solid food a baby tries and masters before moving on to other foods. Infant cereal can be mixed with breast milk, formula, juice or even water. Next is the pureed baby food stage that either can be purchased or simply made at home.
Feeding my second child baby food was a struggle, and he and I were both relieved when he could begin feeding himself. Some examples of finger foods include Cheerios, bread, pasta, crackers, cooked beans and soft fruits and vegetables.
There are a lot of foods that may not make you think “baby food” but are actually great choices. Both of my kids love black beans, frozen peas and frozen blueberries—still frozen! “Both of my kiddos loved avocado! I mixed it with a little breast milk at first and fed it like a puree and then eventually was able to just slice it, and they could eat it. It was probably both of their first finger foods,” comments Hupp. When beginning baby on solid foods, it’s important to watch for any allergic reactions baby may experience. Introduce one new food at a time and watch over a three-day period for any reaction signs, such as diarrhea, hives, diaper rash or swollen lips. Egg whites should be avoided until baby’s first birthday, and peanut butter should wait until closer to 15 months. Of course, avoid foods that are choking hazards, such as popcorn and nuts. Premier Pediatrics has a resourceful website with further information at www.PremierForKids.com.
Stephanie Loux is active in local moms’ groups and enjoys being outside with her little monkeys. Originally from Iowa, she now resides in Olathe with her husband, Mike, and children Layla (3) and Mason (1).
*Please note that guidelines for feeding your baby should be discussed with your pediatrician.