And just like that your little bundle is six months old. Hopefully by now your baby is (eh-hem) sleeping through the night and you’re TOTALLY rested. Something like that, right?
Honestly, I remember when people told me that time flies with children. I thought they must have had temporary memory loss related to the newborn period. But, after that fog had lifted from the first few months, I too realized that upon blinking, your children grow up at the speed of light. This means new adventures for you and your baby!
The AAP recommends exclusive breast milk for the first 6 months and it turns out that many babies are ready to eat solids around that age. Signs that your baby is ready for the food journey is that he or she
- shows interest in mealtime
- shows continued hunger in between nursing/bottle feeds
- can sit up unassisted
- can hold head up independently for a considerable time
- doesn’t automatically push food out of his mouth with his tongue
- opens mouth and leans forward when offered food
While this is a fun, new adventure, remember that even after starting solids, primary nutrition will be from breast milk or formula in the first year of life. No cow’s milk or juice yet either, please! Don’t be surprised if that first bite of avocado puree puts a weird face on your baby. That doesn’t mean stop trying. Sometimes it takes babies 10-15 tries over several months to be ready for and accept a new flavor or texture. However, patterns of taste are formed as early as 9 months so offering fruits and veggies at all meals and snacks is a great idea. Maybe you will encourage a palate refined enough for your child to crave brussels sprouts as a teen! Babies who experience a variety of colors, textures and flavors tend to be less picky eaters later on - so, go ahead and offer that rainbow filled adventure during this time!
By convention, most parents start with single grain cereal, but really any baby-safe (soft) foods can be introduced. A general tip is to introduce a new food one at a time and wait 3-5 days before introducing the next to see if your child has any problems with that food, including allergies. I enjoyed making my own baby food as it was so fresh and surprisingly easy to do! If you have a blender, it’s easy to get the hang of it and you will be a pro in no time! After introducing single ingredient foods, I would look at common combinations found in the jars/squeezy packets at the store to inspire my own homemade fruit/veggie mixtures. When I got those down, it became easier to improvise with what we had in the fridge.
Remember that your baby watches you during those precious family meals! In fact, studies suggest that having dinner together as a family, on a regular basis, has positive effects on child development. Don’t forget that while you have complete control over what foods your baby eats at this age, you also have control over what YOU eat! Studies have shown that foods parents and caregivers eat have a direct effect on what baby wants to eat. As I have learned as a parent … children are ALWAYS watching us so setting good examples for good habits, particularly healthy eating, goes a long way.
As I said in my last post, the AAP’s parenting website,healthychildren.org is an amazing resource. As a physician I recommend it and use it quite often as a parent as well! They have great information on this topic and many others. Check it out for more tips and even some age appropriate sample menus.
One of my favorite recipes is something I still make my kids to this day:
1 C steel cut oats
3 C water
Handful of raisins
½ T cinnamon
Simmer on the stove for 15 - 20 minutes or throw everything in an instant pot and voila! Your kitchen will smell amazing and kids love it. You can puree it for the tiny ones and just serve as is for your toddlers. Adding a dollop of yogurt is a great way to throw some probiotics in there as well! A fabulous way to jump-start your mornings.
*pro tip - make a double batch on Sunday to feed the family for the week (it also freezes great)
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