When it comes to starting solids, it seems like there are several schools of thought. There’s the traditional route of rice cereal and purées, and within that category are those who make all their purées from scratch and then there are those who use store-bought purée. There’s baby-led weaning, which is considered progressive in some cultures, but if you talk to any mom with more than two kids you’ll probably hear something about how their third started on table food much more quickly than their other children did. There are those who say, “Food before one is just for fun,” and those who feel like their babies need more than breastmilk or formula to stay satisfied.
And I’m going to tell you that however you decide to start feeding your babies solids is for you and your child’s pediatrician to decide. I like to do a large combination of all of these things because I am all about balance, reality, and the ease with which I can adapt my kids to everyday life.
But I’m also going to tell you that amidst writing this post and introducing solids to Chloe, I also had to change my entire approach. So take it all with a grain of salt, and modify when needed. There's a saying in Spanish, "Cada hijo es un mundo," and it translates to "Each child is a world." Basically, no two children are the same, and what works for one of your children may not work for another. So like with anything else related to children, adapt adapt ADAPT.
First things first. Talk to your child's pediatrician. Make sure your pediatrician thinks your child is ready to start solids. With both of my kids, since I was exclusively breastfeeding, my pediatrician's recommendation was to wait until 6 months to introduce solids. I also feel more comfortable waiting until my kids are sitting up a little better, even if it's with support, just so that they aren't flopping over.
Decide on how you will start and gather what you need. If you're buying foods, figure out which ones you need to buy. If you're making it yourself, you'll need a few additional supplies! You don't need a special baby food maker - but you will need something in which to steam your veggies, a good blender, and containers to store and freeze the foods. You can check out my Amazon Idea List to see some of the things I use.
Just start! Don't overthink it too much. If your baby is showing interest in foods, it's probably a good time to try it.
A couple of key points I follow, regardless of what methods I'm trying:
Baby-Led Weaning vs. Traditional Purees
When I was ready to introduce solids to Caleb, I did a lot of reading up and came across baby-led weaning (BLW). I thought it had some really great merits, but I was still a little hesitant. I had a conversation with a great friend about it and she told me she had done a combination of BLW and traditional purees with her twins. After talking about how she did it, I knew it was something I could really get behind.
Some of the things I liked about BLW:
So how did I integrate the two?
Whenever I tried a new food, I introduced the "solid" first. These are finger-sized pieces of food that baby can grab and bite. Vegetables are steamed or boiled so they are soft enough for baby to chew. I prepared half of the food this way and then pureed the other half. After they had a chance to explore the new food, I would give them some in puree form so that I could make sure they ingested it. So I basically combined the best of the two methods and found what worked for us.
Again, this may or may not work for you, and for Chloe, it's been an adventure. I finally figured out that she likes fruits, but she isn't crazy about veggies, so if I mix the two, she will eat it. Of course she wants nothing to do with homemade food!
If you are in the process of starting solids with your little one, I hope this helps. But again, please please please check with your child's pediatrician before you introduce solids. This is simply me experience with my children and I am not a medical professional.
Good luck, mommas (and daddies, too!)! You've got this!