First, let me preface this blog post by clearly stating that I am not a nutritionist or medical expert – I’m just a mom who has 3 healthy kids with relatively good eating habits (my six year old’s fave food is roasted brussel sprout!). I’ve had different experiences transitioning my little ones onto solids and wanted to share 5 things I have learned along the way to help you on your journey.
1. Don’t rush it.
Doctors now say that between 4 and 6 months is the right time to start solids. With each of my children I decided to waited until after six months – they were healthy, growing and sleeping well. None of them really started to show any interest in solids in the earlier months, but once they hit the 6 month mark, they started to gaze longingly at whatever I was eating I also loved the simplicity of not having to worry about food. When you’re a new mom, you’ve got enough to think about, right? Plus, babies are so much more portable for trips and outings when you don’t have to worry about food.
2. It’s easier than you think to make your own food.
Yes, I am that mom who makes her own homemade organic baby food. But in my defense, it’s really not that hard or time-consuming. I like to make a big batch of something and freeze it in ice cubes, then just defrost a couple of cubes for a meal. Peas, lentils mixed with sweet potatoes and spinach or kale, and squash have all been hits in our house. If you want to take on making your own baby food, there are (luckily) tons of great products that make it even easier. Some of my faves are the Wean Green Baby Feeding Starter Set, the Oxo Tot Freezer Tray, and the Kidsme Food Scissors (for safely cutting up food).
There are also lots of great pre-packaged options. When we went away on vacation recently, I brought a dozen or so Love Child Organics pouches with me. I prefer the blends that include veggies for easy meals – My youngest loves them, and I love how convenient they are and that I can feel good about what’s in them.
3. Be patient.
This is a “two steps forward, one (or even two) steps back” kind of process, so be prepared and be patient! I was sure that Henry would hit the ground running when it came to solids since he’d been watching his big brother and sister eat for a while and was already a bit past six months. But it was a slow process – he’d take food into his mouth but not actually swallow it. We persevered, and didn’t try to push every meal on him and eventually he got there. It takes time, and each child will move at their own pace. At his age, he was still getting most of his nutrition from breast milk so food was really just for fun. Teething, colds, and other unexpected (and sometime totally inexplicable) factors can also lead to some solid food setbacks. There will be days where they just don’t want to eat, and that’s ok – it’ll pass, and they’ll come back to the table.
4. Let them lead.
I’m a big believer in letting kids try foods they show interest in (within reason, of course). The technical term for this is “baby-led weaning,” and it really does work! The sooner they can feed themselves, the easier it is on you. Henry is my third child, so with him this approach was pretty much a necessity. With 3 kids, dinner time is chaos in our house! It’s virtually impossible for me to spoon-feed the baby while responding to all of the requests for milk, more pasta, a bathroom break, etc.
Approaching the transition to solids this way can help you seriously simplify mealtime. Sunday dinner in our house is usually roast chicken with veggies for everyone. Baby Henry gets small bits of chicken and I may steam his veggies a little longer than everyone else’s, but we’re all eating the same meal at the same time and he feels like he’s part of what’s going on. Another thing I love about this approach is that it exposes baby to different foods – Henry now adores asparagus because during Sunday dinner, I would give him a spear of roasted asparagus to gnaw on to keep him busy. This extends to flavours too, so don’t be afraid to add some new flavours and spices to the foods you’re serving, like cinnamon in oatmeal and cumin and garlic in meatballs. It helps baby get familiar with new flavours and spices and tastes, and they may wind up loving it!
5. Get comfortable with the mess.
This isn’t going to be pretty. Babies make a mess and you are going to spend time getting stains out of their clothes, cleaning the floor, high chair and more. Instead of fighting it, just go in prepared and invest in a good, easy to clean high chair – trust me, you’ll thank yourself! This Boon Chair has has survived all 3 of my kids and is still going strong. It’s easy to clean and wipe down, can be adjusted up or down easy, and it’s got wheels so that you can move baby around. Also, bibs are key! These Skip Hop bibs are perfect for travelling, and these bibs are amazing for catching the mess. Finally, keep a good cleaner like this one on hand – perfect for mealtime messes, and made with ingredients that you can feel safe using around little ones who put their hands on everything.
Erin Young is a mom to three young kids, and she’s also Well.ca’s superstar CMO! She loves running, travelling, and cooking.