The rules (of introducing new foods)

By Published On: March 2nd, 2015

Is your baby ready for solid foods? Here’s how you […]

FullSizeRenderIs your baby ready for solid foods? Here’s how you know … Baby hold up his own little head. Baby can sit upright without too much wobbling. Baby can pass toys/keys/spoons back and forth between his own hands. Baby shoves everything into his mouth. Most importantly, baby lunges at whatever you’re trying to put into your own mouth. Has your baby met these milestones? Great. Time for solids.
But wait! There are guidelines here. For the very first feeding, mix about a tablespoon of baby cereal with a few tablespoons of breast milk or formula. Once your baby masters this whole baby cereal thing, rock his little world by introducing pureed vegetables, fruits or meat. But only do so with single ingredient foods and absolutely no sugar or salt, and you should wait three to five days before introducing another food (so you can watch for allergies or adverse reactions like a hawk). To be extra cautious, avoid allergenic foods—wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, fish—for the first year. So to summarize: Bland food only, and take it sloooow.
Here’s the thing. We actually did this seven or so years ago. Don’t laugh; we really did! Six or seven months of exclusive breastfeeding, then the exact proportion of easily-digestible, organic baby rice cereal to breast milk, then recommended first foods introduced four days apart, so we could monitor his reaction to everything. It was fine. He was fine.
Fast forward to baby number four, and we’ve relaxed. A lot. She started solids somewhere between 4 and 5 months. We did start officially with the rice cereal/breast milk combo, but we were total rebels and didn’t measure anything. And to be totally honest, her unofficial first taste of something besides breast milk was actually a smear of super awesome local chocolate off the tip of her daddy’s finger. Whoops, sugar and dairy. She adored it.
We bought a few jars of apples and prunes and sweet potatoes to stir into her cereal, and she still enjoys those options a few times a day. But sharing is what she loves most. And boy, do we ever share. How can we not? She’s so keen about trying it all. So to date, our 7-month-old has sampled goat cheese, hamburger meat cooked with a cabernet reduction, roasted garlic hummus, honey-glazed salmon, brown rice and black beans, guacamole, Greek yogurt with almond butter, spiced oven-baked sweet potato fries, Gouda, chicken sausage, scrambled eggs and I can’t even remember what else, all mashed, smooshed or partially chewed as necessary. Oh, chocolate, too. Lots of seasonings, lots of spices and flavors and textures.
Our pediatrician laughed when I confessed it all and told us to go for it, being mindful of choking hazards (good call). And apparently, this is a bit of a thing. An article over at mentioned “new rules” for feeding babies, which basically add up to “anything goes” (in moderation, of course). Interestingly, the article points out the potential link between the terribly bland early diets of babies and the picky eaters they can become, demanding a never-varying diet of mac and cheese, chicken fingers and the ubiquitous fish crackers. The gist of the article is that research provides no evidence that delaying foods prevents allergies, so bring on the flavor.
My daughter is in full agreement, so pass the bacon. She loves bacon.