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When do you feed babies their first foods?

Baby's First Food - Avocado

Owen's First Food - Avocado

When do you feed babies their first foods? And what foods do you introduce first? I feel like these are loaded questions these days. Or maybe I’m just too plugged into the mommy network of blogs, BabyCenter boards, Twitter, etc. But there seems to be so much drama and finger-pointing out there in the mommy-sphere about baby’s first food.

Five years ago when I was introducing food to Olivia I just sort of went with what I thought was best. At 5 months, I tried oatmeal and rice cereal – she didn’t like either. A week or so later I tried sweet potatoes on Easter – she was too tired to eat. In another week I tried avocado – she loved it. We kept going from there. The whole process was fun!

Now that Owen has passed the 5 month mark I’m feeling a bit stressed and confused about the whole feeding thing. At his 4-month well baby visit his pediatrician suggested that I start him on solids because of his low weight. I definitely didn’t feel as if he was ready. He could barely hold his head up at that point. Plus, I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my breastmilk supply unnecessarily.

I turned to a parenting board with parents (mostly moms) of children born around the same time as Owen. I thought it would be helpful to hear what others were doing. Bad idea! I couldn’t believe the heated arguments and judgmental posts surrounding this topic.

There are those that started feeding their babies around 4 months (the “old” norm) being judged by those waiting until their little ones are (at least!) 6 months. And those who are making their own baby purees being lambasted by those who are doing baby-led weaning. Before last month, I thought baby-led weaning was letting babies naturally stop breastfeeding. Nope! This is a new (I think?!?) method of introducing solids where the child feeds himself from the get-go rather than starting with pureed food. And if you feed your baby rice/oatmeal cereal you basically just need to keep quiet because you’ll surely get a long post from someone about why rice cereal is bad for your baby. Really?!? Like being a mom to an infant isn’t hard enough.

Honestly I’m not sure how first time moms navigate this information. It’s hard for me to not get caught up in it despite already successfully chartering this stage.

So what am I doing? I have decided to shut off the noise on this debate and do what I think is best for Owen. I have introduced a few foods to him – avocado, sweet potatoes and carrots so far. I am making homemade purees (for now!) and watching proudly as he uses the spoon and his hands to touch it, taste it and ultimately smear it all around his face and highchair. I am not feeding him on a schedule – just giving him practice some nights when I have time. I skipped the cereal because frankly I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store to buy it. I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s and a local farmstand – neither of which sell baby food.

It seems to be working for me…and him. And that is the point really. How about you? When did you introduce your baby to food and what was it? No judgments here just busy working moms trying to do right by our babies!

BTW – I do like BabyCentre UK’s Introducing Solids article better than the US one (though very similar). I seem to prefer the Brit’s casualness on the topic.

5 comments

  1. lisa April 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I can see why this is such a big debate! Everyone I talk to has a different opinion and it’s really hard to know what’s right. My son is 7 months so I followed the advice from my pediatrician in terms of what to do when. She was also my doctor, so I trust her judgement. We started with rice cereal at 5.5 months and some veggies and fruit purees at about 6 months. He still has only eaten pureed food and I’m not in a hurry to push him to do more.

  2. Mary April 10, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I think you are doing exactly right for Owen – trust your gut and be prepared to change if he decides he’s ready for more or less. I waited 6 months with the 1st and about 5 1/2 with the 2nd (both breastfed). Both started on rice cereal and both are good eaters (for different reasons – he is much more adventurous!) I was amazed when my sister had her son a few years later and when she asked for my opinion, I suggested starting with rice cereal mixed with breast milk and gradually adding baby food to the rice cereal. That’s when I learned that pediatricians are now saying “no to rice cereal”. So she skipped rice cereal and made her own baby food. Her son still isn’t the best eater but he’s healthy and thriving. My point is, there’s no right or wrong way (IMO). Do what works for you. Gather your information (research is always great) but take away the bits that you feel most strongly about.

  3. Profile photo of Kate

    Kate April 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I totally agree. Some people seem to think their way of doing things is the only right way so it really is good to just set back and assess what works for you and your baby. We first offered rice cereal around 5 months but because he showed little interest, waited until around 6 months and introduced purees. Now at 8 months he eats a wide variety of purees although his favorite is actually plain yogurt. I haven’t tried to make anything beyond a basic puree but I’m hoping to start doing more of that now that he’s eating a lot!

  4. NewsMom April 11, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I can’t figure out why feeding babies and children is such a major cause of stress for parents, I just know it is — at least for me and just about every other mom I know. I think it’s great if you can take it casually and reduce the pressure.
    That said, one potential reason to take a more regimented approach is to be able to identify any food allergies or intolerances that might surface and to be able to identify more easily what new food a reaction could be attributed to. This hasn’t been an issue for my son, but it was a major issue for my daughter. On the one hand, it added immensely to the stress, but on the other hands was important for her health.
    I will also pipe up for one reason to keep a box of rice cereal in the house — when the stomach bugs hit, rice cereal and bananas do wonders. You can use your breast milk to make the rice cereal. So just a thought to keep in mind next time you do find yourself in grocery store.

  5. hannah March 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I feel like I’m in the same boat as you.My little girl is 4 months and I’m getting excited to start feeding her. I was thinking I’d wait until 6 months but I don’t think it will hurt her so start a little earlier when I have the time.

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