Beginning a little one on solids can be overwhelming for some, especially when as a mother you really want to give your child the best start in the world. There are many different methods, plans and recommendations out there, but I am going to keep it real simple for you. Give your baby REAL food and let them have at it!
When to start solids?
For the first six months, breast milk is the only food required by most infants. It provides the essential antibodies that protect their immune function and nutrients that optimize growth. Until six months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. The introduction of foods too early may induce food allergies or food sensitives. Honestly, there have been no conclusive studies done to show that a baby should wait till after 6 months though. You can breast feed exclusively for a year if you want. Breastfeeding gives your baby a steady supply of complete nutrition during the messy but fun transition to real food. Overall, the six month recommendation seems reasonable to me.
Beyond the six months recommendation, you may want to wait until your baby can sit up by themselves. That is really the only other important thing. According to Nina Planck in Real Food for Mother and Baby, “When is your baby ready? She is ready when she can sit up on her own. This indicates a certain control of her trunk. Her mouth and throat are stronger and more coordinated. When you put food on her tongue, she does not immediately eject it.”
She may have teeth, she may not. Either way works just fine. Karis didn’t, Titus did. She may grab for your food, she may not. Karis didn’t, Titus did. Maybe it’s a girl/boy thing. Nurse exclusively as long as you are able – it’s frugal, it’s healthy, and it’s simple! When you baby can sit up and starts really actively desiring food, then let them begin exploring with food. If they are not interested until 9 or 10 months (or later), don’t worry about it. Rushing it will not be fun for you or your baby. With my first daughter, Karis, we were able to hold off until 8 months of age before beginning solids. Titus started just a bit earlier around 7 months.
I knew she was ready for them when she began eagerly consuming little samples I gave her of my own food. Secondly, if they start getting grumpy quicker after breastfeeding, or have a hard time going to sleep, I have found that adding solids normally has helped my babies sleep better and be more happy and satisfied throughout the day. Use your judgment! You are the mom and you know better than any one else. You really don’t need to get on any rigid schedule of eating either. We started with a little pear slice in a mesh feeder, and then forget about it for a few days, and then give him some carrots at dinner, etc. I have never gotten real consistent with three meals a day until they are around 1 year old. Overall, we continued to nurse regularly as long as the baby desires or as my supply allows. With Karis this was 15 months of age. We have yet to see with Titus.