Your baby’s first bite of food: so exciting moment for you as a parent! However, it can also be scary. I remember being intimidated about when to start baby foods, what to start with first, what foods should I avoid and so on. The difficult part was that everyone seemed to have a different opinion or answer to each of the questions above. As with all development, there is a range of appropriate answers with regard to feeding. The good news is there is also a great deal of flexibility during this process as well. I would recommend you learn what is safe, read your baby’s cues, and follow a feeding path that is comfortable for your family. This three post series outlines some “food for thought” about the introduction of baby food. This first part will talk about timing the transition to baby food.
When is the time right to take the first bite?
As mentioned above, timing of transitioning to baby food is a personal, family, and cultural decision. However, an important consideration is transitioning to food developmentally appropriate for your baby at that time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting the transition no earlier than six months of age. Talk with your pediatrician before making this transition to get his or her opinion. However, age should not be the only consideration.
Your child should have sufficient head control in order to allow him to sit upright in order to encourage effective swallowing. Have you ever noticed that many of the store bought baby foods will more likely use motor development milestones when recommending who should eat their products? This links back to the fact that certain motor milestones like head control are needed to safely support feeding skills.
Is your baby showing interest in food, either through increased appetite or desire to explore foods you are eating? An important part of successful transition to baby food is reading your baby’s cues. Your baby will let you know when he or she is ready to try baby foods. However, your baby also may provide distinct cues that he is not yet ready. If your baby actively resists or gets upset with feeding, you may want to wait a few days before trying again.
Be ready for a mess! Remember that your baby is learning and may not manage the food well at first. Your baby will get messy, and that is ok. Some babies actually may feel more comfortable allowing food into their mouths after having the opportunity to feel it on their hands.
The next post in this series will be a more practical how-to which discusses how to actually start the process and what types of foods to start with.
Remember to consider what works best for you and your child! The transition to baby food is not a one-size-fits-all process. If your child is having difficulty transitioning to baby food or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help! Remember, Babies Can’t Wait! Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/