Feeding FAQ Index
- Signs baby is ready to start solids.
- When to start baby on solids.
- Why wait until 6 months for solids?
- How to start baby on solids.
- Recommended first foods.
- Benefits of salt.
Signs baby is ready to start solids
- Baby can sit up well without support.
- Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex and does not automatically push solids out of his mouth with his tongue.
- Baby is ready and willing to chew.
- Baby is developing a “pincer” grasp, where he picks up food or other objects between thumb and forefinger. Using the fingers and scraping the food into the palm of the hand (palmar grasp) does not substitute for pincer grasp development.
- Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.
When to start baby on solids:
- As recommend by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Introduce solid foods around 6 months of age
- Expose baby to a wide variety of healthy foods
- Also offer a variety of textures
Why wait until 6 months for solids?
Kelly Mom lays it out: Although many of the reasons listed here assume that your baby is breastfed or fed breastmilk only, experts generally recommend that solids be delayed for formula fed babies also.
- Baby will have greater protection from illness.
- Although children continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they breastfeed, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and also facilitates the development of “good bacteria” that protect baby’s gut. Studies have shown that many illnesses and conditions are less likely to occur when baby receives any amount of breastmilk. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3-4 months (compared to non-exclusive breastfeeding) further decreases the risk of respiratory tract infections, ear infections, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), allergic disease, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (compared to 4-6 months), further decreases the risk of gastrointestinal infection and respiratory infection. (AAP 2012, Naylor & Morrow 2001)
- Baby’s digestive system will have time to mature.
- If solids are started before a baby’s system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Digestion of fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates is incomplete in infancy, but human milk contains enzymes that aid efficient digestion (Naylor & Morrow 2001).In addition, from birth until somewhere between four and six months of age babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.” This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby’s first 4-6 months, while the gut is still “open,” antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby’s digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also. For more on this subject, see: How Breast Milk Protects Newborns, and The Virgin Gut: A Note for Parents.
- Baby will be developmentally ready to eat foods that are not liquids.
- A review done by Naylor & Morrow (2001) concluded, “These clinical reports indicate that the majority of normal full term infants are not developmentally ready for the transition from suckling to sucking or for managing semi-solids and solid foods in addition to liquids until between six and eight months of age.”
- Baby will have a lower risk of obesity in the future.
- The early introduction of solids in infancy is associated with increased body fat and weight in adolescents and adults. (AAP 2012, Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)
- Starting solids will be easier.
- Babies who start solids later can feed themselves.
- Baby may have more protection from iron-deficiency anemia.
- The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby’s iron absorption. In one study of healthy, full-term infants (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia. See Is Iron-Supplementation Necessary? for more information.
- Mom will more easily maintain her milk supply.
- Studies have shown that for babies under six months, solids tend to replace breastmilk in a baby’s diet – they do not add to baby’s total intake (WHO 2003, Cohen 1994, Dewey 1999). The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely.
- Mom is less likely to become pregnant.
- Breastfeeding is most effective in preventing pregnancy when your baby is exclusively breastfed and all of his nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at the breast (Don’t believe this? It’s strongly supported by research – see Breastfeeding and Fertility for more information). Mothers who exclusively breastfeed for 6 months vs 4 months have a longer duration of lactational amenorrhea (the natural postpartum infertility that occurs when a woman is not menstruating due to breastfeeding). (Kramer & Kakuma, 2012)
- Mom can more quickly lose extra “baby weight.” Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies for 6 months (compared to 4 months) have more rapid postpartum weight loss (Kramer & Kakuma, 2012).
Have you heard that foods should be introduced into the infant diet between 4 and 6 months to reduce the risk of developing allergy, celiac disease or type 1 diabetes mellitus?
The current evidence has been reviewed by several authorities, and the conclusion was that there is insufficient evidence to support the introduction of gluten (or other solid foods) into the infant diet before 6 months.
Read full article:
How to start baby on solids:
- Weston A. Price advises:
Go slowly and be observant; every baby will have an individual response to different foods. Introduce new foods one at a time and continue to feed that same food for at least four days to rule out the possibility of a negative reaction. Signs of intolerance include redness around the mouth; abdominal bloating, gas and distention; irritability, fussiness, over-activity and awaking throughout the night; constipation and diarrhea; frequent regurgitation of foods; nasal and/or chest congestion; and red, chapped or inflamed eczema-like skin rash.
Finally, respect the tiny, still-developing digestive system of your infant. Babies have limited enzyme production, which is necessary for the digestion of foods. In fact, it takes up to 28 months, just around the time when molar teeth are fully developed, for the big-gun carbohydrate enzymes (namely amylase) to fully kick into gear. Foods like cereals, grains and breads are very challenging for little ones to digest. Thus, these foods should be some of the last to be introduced. (One carbohydrate enzyme a baby’s small intestine does produce is lactase, for the digestion of lactose in milk.)
Read full article:
- Healthychildren.org also explains:
Introducing your baby to new foods can be both fun and frustrating. Some parents worry about wasting food and money if their babies don’t like a lot of foods at first. Good news: a new eater only needs 1-2 tablespoons of each food and will gradually increase to 3-4 tablespoons as she gets older. By getting your baby used to lots of different foods, you’ll help him build a healthy diet for life.
Be patient and try, try again.
When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods (around 6 months), her tastes will change from day to day. A baby may have to try a new food 10 to 15 times over several months before she’ll eat it!
Yes, 10 to 15 times sounds like a lot, but you only need to offer her a spoonful each time —not a whole bowl. Try giving her a new food once or twice a week along with foods she regularly eats.
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Recommended first foods:
- Bone broth
- Winter & Summer squash
- Green Bean
- Egg Yolk
- Sweet Potato
- Pureed grass fed/ organic beef
Why Salt, Specifically Himalayan, is nutritionally beneficial:
- Himalayan Salt contains over 84 trace minerals, aids in digestion, improves the absorption of nutrients from foods, strengthens bones and increases hydration; just to name a few of its health benefits...
Read all about it: