For every baby who takes to solids like a pig in the mud, there’s another who is having absolutely none of it. So before sitting Baby down for her first solid meal, consider these six solid strategies.
- Seize the moment
It’s preferable to introduce solids to Baby when her fledgling interest in adult food is still developing, so if there’s a point where Baby seems especially interested in solids, as long as she is showing other signs of readiness – like sitting up on her own, showing a lot of interest in what you’re eating, and seeming eager to eat along with you – it can be a good idea to let her have her way. The transition to solids has a much better chance of going smoothly if Baby thinks it’s her own idea.
- Take it slow
Tasting new food with strange texture or flavors can be a majorly new experience for a baby exclusively fed on breast milk or formula. Plan on introducing Baby to one solid food at a time – many parents start with cereal or pureed vegetables or fruits – so if she has any trouble with a type of food, you’ll know what’s causing the problem. And this recommendation is really just to be cautious about food allergies. But if you have any questions about this – like what foods Baby should start with or how to introduce potential allergens – make sure to ask your child’s healthcare provider. Then once you’ve introduced a few foods, you can start to mix and match. Believe it or not, Baby will be eating the same food that’s on your plate in no time! (See #5 below.)
- Be patient
Everyone – including adults – adjusts to new tastes at a different pace. Your first glass of wine might have tasted like grape juice and gasoline, but you persevered, and eventually, your palate adapted. Babies are the same way. It might take ten tries before Baby wolfs down a serving of mashed apples, but it’ll happen. But if Baby cries and turns away from food, and just overall doesn’t seem interested, don’t push it; let her have her usual breastmilk or formula to be happy, full, and fed, and then try to introduce solids again a little later. This might mean later in the day, later in the week, later in the month – you’ll have to figure out what works for your little one – all children are ready for solids on their own timeline.
- Fruits and veggies
What do breast milk and formula have in common? A sweet taste! Now ask yourself, what tastes more sugary: a spoonful of blueberries or strained peas? One school of thought says that starting Baby’s solid experience with fruits will offer her a familiar sweetness that vegetables will generally lack. On the other hand, though, starting with fruit could make the transition to vegetables later more difficult, so many choose to start with vegetables. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the order in which you introduce Baby to fruits and vegetables doesn’t make a difference – she is going to prefer sweets no matter what, and it’s always going to be important for her to get her veggies in, anyway.
- Add some spice
Once Baby is eating fruits and vegetables without much fuss, feel free to make mealtime more exciting by branching out from bland foods and adding more exciting entrees to her meal rotation. A mild infusion of herbs, spices (low on the heat index and not too much salt), garlic, or onions can expand a growing baby’s interest in new solids. And very soon you can actually have Baby eating what you’re eating for meals, just mashed or cut up into baby-friendly size. And what could be sweeter than sharing a meal with your little one?