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Introducing Solids: The Magic, The Myth

Introducing solids to your baby is not nearly as scientific as we like to make it out to be. I trained in the era of give rice cereal first, then vegetables, then fruits, and finally meats. If you didn’t give foods in a certain way/order, you somehow would make it so your baby wouldn’t eat the other stuff. There was also some magic number of days that you had to wait between new foods. I have since learned that the science doesn’t support that how you introduce solids makes an ounce of difference. Don’t tell my husband, but I may be admitting I was wrong.

Most people still start with a cereal of some sort. However, that is a cultural thing only, not a scientific fact. Interestingly, there are some who even tout the harms of starting with cereals. My advice, do what you think is best for your child. Generally speaking, cereal (whether that be rice, barley, multigrain, etc.) is pretty well tolerated. Little tip though, mix it thicker than the box says (slightly more runny than pudding); it makes it easier to work with.

There isn’t a magic interval you need to wait between new foods either. The logic holds that if your child is going to have a reaction, you want you to be able to pinpoint the cause of it (so introducing 5 new foods at once just muddies the waters). If you have a kid that is particularly sensitive (inclined to easy face and butt rashes), you may want to wait a few days between new foods. This gives whatever you’ve given a chance to go through the kid and make sure it doesn’t cause a problem.  So for most kids, it is appropriate to introduce new foods somewhere between every meal to every 1-2 days.

Once your child shows that he can tolerate the cereal (or whatever you started with), start adding new things one at a time. You might do pureed green beans or chicken next. FYI, the only difference between stage 1 and stage 2 baby foods is size of the container. You can buy the baby food or make it yourself, whatever suits your lifestyle.

Food handling safety tip: Don’t feed your baby directly from the jar unless he is going to eat the entire container in one sitting. Otherwise, pour some of it into a baby bowl first and then feed it to him. That way, digestive enzymes and bacteria from his mouth don’t contaminate the jar that you intend to put back into the fridge.

After your child is really good at the smooth, pureed foods, feel free to start small bites off your plate. Just keep in mind that if you want your child to eat a good variety of healthy foods, you have to introduce those foods early. If you feed your child French fries, chicken nuggets, and mac n’ cheese, then that is what he is going to know and love. If you feed your child baked Salmon and Asparagus, he’ll eat it because he doesn’t know any different.

Eating healthy is expensive and time consuming. However, the investment is well worth it. Bon appetite!