Sheryl Jesin

Fitness, food, family, fun and more!

Starting Solids at 6 Months

36 Comments

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When Dylan was about 4 or 5 months old, I began researching how to introduce solids to babies.  I was quite convinced that it was best to wait until he was 6 months old.    The American Pediatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Canadian Pediatric Society all recommend that a baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of his or her life for optimal growth and development.

I was a bit overwhelmed with how to start and what foods to introduce first.  I took Dylan for a checkup when he was 5 months and asked his pediatrician what he recommends as a baby’s first food.  He said rice cereal, but when I said why he said well traditionally that is what’s done.  That wasn’t a good enough reason for me!

I found some great resources on the La Leche League International website, including a page on First Foods For Babies.  I liked their suggestion of saving money and giving baby the freshest foods by making your own.  It just made sense to me!   I decided that Dylan’s first food would be a bit of mashed banana.   I actually waited until Dylan was six months old on the dot and gave him a few tastes of the banana.  He took to it right away and gobbled down a couple of teaspoons.   I tried a variety of mashed fruits next as per La Leche League’s suggestions – some ripe pear, apple gently cooked in the microwave, and avocado.  I then tried some mashed veggies – sweet potato, carrots and peas – all gently cooked in the microwave.  I waited three days in between each new food to make sure Dylan wasn’t allergic.

First taste of banana at 6 months. Yummmmy!

I feel quite lucky that introducing solids was really easy with Dylan.  He loved every new food that he tried.  I think he made a face once with peas but everything else he enjoyed right from the first bite.  I believe one of the reasons that he was willing to try new foods  was that we waited until Dylan showed of signs of readiness.  The Kellymom website suggests that signs that indicate baby is developmentally ready for solids include:

  • 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.

I made all of Dylan’s food.  It was easy – somethings didn’t need to be cooked, like banana or avocado or really ripe fruit.  For things that required cooking, like apples or peas, I’d make a big batch at night and then  puree and freeze individual servings in these great little containers called Baby Cubes.  I tried to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever I could.

I did give Dylan some baby cereal because I felt I “had to”.  Seems silly now, but everyone I knew was giving their babies cereal.  Dylan tried brown rice, barley, and oatmeal cereal.  I bought organic brands of each, but the consistency of them both dry and moist and the taste really turned me off.   For my next baby I will skip the processed baby cereal and just introduce grains in their normal form.   I was also turned off by the jars of baby food.  They also seemed very processed to me – cooked until most flavour is gone and pureed until all texture is lost.  I can understand why some moms use them for convenience, but I truly enjoyed making Dylan’s food.

How did you introduce solids to your baby?  When did you do it?  What were some of your baby’s first foods?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)

36 thoughts on “Starting Solids at 6 Months

  1. We never bought the cereal, I read too many things about it to want to give it a try. Then again, Kieran also wasn’t interested in solids until he was 11 months old, so I wasn’t ever tempted ;)

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  3. I am so glad to read this – my daughter is six months old, and I’ve been giving her cereal for a couple of months now (along with breastfeeding) because I thought I had to – but it really has no nutritional benefit, does it? It makes her constipated unless I make it with juice, which I really don’t WANT her to have this early… I am going to stop giving her cereal, you have inspired me! :) I made my own baby food with my son, too, and really enjoyed it, but this time we’re part of a program where we get free jarred baby foods, so I hate to refuse what’s free. :) I do give her avocado that I make myself, though, since they don’t have that in the jars we get. :) Thanks for this post!

    • You are right – cereal has little nutritional value and often makes babies constipated! And they definitely don’t need juice this early. I say skip the cereal and give her the good stuff – fruits and veggies!

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  5. My son only had real food – never cereals! We also only gave him foods he could eat himself, in whole form. He sucked on a whole banana until he mouthed a small piece off, ate a whole peach by nibbling on it little by little – no pureeing necessary, just some supervision.

    I think it’s so hard for moms to wait until 6mo. You’ve stopped being engorged all the time so you’re terrified you’re starving baby and everyone around you is already feeding solids.

    • It is sooo hard for moms to wait til 6 months, especially when doctors are STILL saying to start with cereal at 4 months. Haven’t they read the WHO, APA and CPS guidelines??

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  7. I also did the rice cereal thing but my daughters both hated it so I mostly concentrated on ripe, mushy fruits and veggies. Then I introduced rice, really overcooked mushy rice. I felt better about giving them real food instead of packaged foods. It made me think “our ancestors didn’t feed their kids processed rice cereal so why should I?”

  8. A very timely post for me. We also started with a little banana at 6 months on the dot, about 3 weeks ago. It was hard to wait, as many of my friends with same-aged babies had been doing cereal for months, but soooo worth it! Jeremy loves all foods that he has tried so far – banana, avocado, nectarine, cantaloupe, applesauce, broccoli, etc. So far we are sticking with fruits and veggies. Grains will come in another month or so. Sometimes he gets chunks of soft food, other times it’s mashed and I spoon-feed him. I’ve never read this anywhere, but I feel very strongly that with spoon-feeding we shouldn’t put the spoon into their mouths. Instead I hold it just in front of him and he has to reach forward to get it, that way he is in complete control of how much he eats.

    • Sounds like a great method you’ve got going! It makes sense not to force feed the food into their mouths on spoons but let them take it in at their own pace. Babies and toddlers have a remarkable way of knowing when they need to eat and when they are full if we just pay attention to their cues.

  9. Thanks for this post! I’ve got a 4mo and I’m SICK of hearing about cereal. I’ll be interested to hear what the ped has to say at his 4m check up. He’s very pro-BFing so it should be interesting to see what he says to BLW.

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  11. I love it! My last baby never had “baby food”, when he was interested he went right for the grown up stuff when he was about 11 to 12 months old. He had a whole banana and cubes of avocado for his first foods. Sarah the Healthy Home Economist has a great article on the dangers of cereal as a first food, the impact on the digestive tract it has, and its impact on disease we may develop later on in life.

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  13. This is a great post! My kiddo, Ella, is 8 months old. We never did cereal (our pedi is great and told me that it was highly processed and to skip it – Ella will get her iron through other sources). She actually has also never had a puree and has never been spoon-fed. We follow a process called Baby Led Weaning (if you google it, you’ll find a lot of info, and I recommend the book by the same name). We also didn’t stick to only soft foods, I feel it’s important for her to experiment with a wide variety of textures as well as tastes, and really that’s the main purpose of food for babies younger than 12 months. I’d encourage you to give it a try – it’s been a freeing experience for both Ella and me. :)

  14. When Dylan was six weeks old, Sheryl and I were having trouble figuring out why Dylan wasn’t sleeping according to “schedule”. He would cry a lot and generally wake up after very short periods of sleep. My grandmother, bless her soul, thought it would be wise to suggest to Sheryl that we start Dylan on some rice cereal right away. She said, that “back in the old country” that’s what they did when babies cried all the time.

    I’m glad that Sheryl didn’t listen to her. I still gag when I think of the nasty cereal that we used to feed Dylan. It reminded me of flaky fish food and little pieces of it floated out of the box and all over the kitchen when I’d prepare it.

    Fresh fruit and veggies all the way for baby number 2. No fish food.

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  17. we’re at pretty much exactly the same place with our little guy. i, too, bought the cereal thinking it was “the thing” to do, but we gave it to him twice or three times before i was like — wait, why? now he’s happily nomming peas, squash, carrots and sweet potatoes instead. he never took to the bananas, which was fine by me. if he doesn’t inherit his mama’s sweet tooth, i won’t complain!

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  19. My son is just coming up to 6 months. I so wanted to wait but he’s SO hungry. Since he was born he breast feed every hour or two (sometimes cluster feeding for hours on end) (and yes my supply and latch is correct) and it was getting to the stage where I just coulnd’t keep up. So we started him on solids at 4 months. But it was clear that as much as he loved it it was too early. So we waited a couple of weeks and when we tried again it worked a lot better. I use a blend of baby cereal ( Organic quinoa flour, Organic whole grain rice flour, Organic whole grain millet flour, Organic amaranth flour,) to thicken fruit puree when needed. I don’t use it on it’s own and I don’t use plain baby rice either. Tobias has mostly fruit and vedge puree’s to be honest though with a peach and banana baby cereal for breakfast some days. I often wonder if I should have waited but since he’s having 2 solid meals a day AND breastfeeding like there’s no tomorrow I think I would have been ending up with supplementing with formula. Which is something I wouldn’t have wanted to do.
    Our daughter decided very quickly that she wanted to feed herself so we didnt do purees for long and i can see Tobias going the same way. We spoon feed but i only feed him if he sees the spoon and opens his mouth.. never shovel it in unawares.

    • My son’s name is Tobias as well. *waves*
      :-D

      • heh .. cool :)
        My daughter’s name is Brynn. We live in Wales in the UK and named her before we moved here. As Bryn is a boys name and not a girls name it;s creating all kinds of confusion. Tobias is a lovely name. Are you finding poeople want to shorted it to Toby?

  20. Brilliant post – thank you for sharing! I weaned our daughter on home grown apples which I bottled when prenant; that felt like such a special thing to do. I did do our own veggies and fruits, but I also bought jars of organic baby food too. I guess I knew no better; but I’d never do it again … Well done for researching this and following what you knew to be right. Not all of us are that strong or determined.

  21. Brilliant post – thank you for sharing! I weaned our daughter on home grown apples which I bottled when pregnant; that felt like such a special thing to do. I did do our own veggies and fruits, but I also bought jars of organic baby food too. I guess I knew no better; but I’d never do it again … Well done for researching this and following what you knew to be right. Not all of us are that strong or determined.

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  23. This is great, and I really like your tips and your attitude. It’s so important to wait till they’re ready, and then it goes easily. My son was ready to start tasting around 6 months, but he really didn’t start swallowing till closer to a year. We went with baby-led solids, just giving him some pieces from our own plates, and it worked really well. In fact, my mom really wanted to spoon feed him mashed bananas when we were visiting around 7 months, and he projectile vomited them all over my dad! ;) That made me laugh so hard. Clearly Mikko wasn’t ready for swallowing yet and just needed more time; he had a really sensitive gag reflex. I’m glad we took the time he needed, because he continued to breastfeed and get all the nutrition he needed that way, and now at 3 he’s very relaxed about food.

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  25. I think you did the right thing by waiting until your baby was ready. Quite often parents are asked to chase the so called milestones based on “average” data. Every child is different and it takes a keen eye to figure out when he or she is ready for a certain milestone.

    In our case, the rice cereal did not go well with the twins. We also relied on home made purees of different fruits and vegetables. We also used Earth’s Best organic jar foods quite extensively.

    Thanks for sharing your story and these great tips.

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