There are a lot of variables — and a few risks — to introducing your kid to solids. Will they have allergies? Will they get enough key nutrients? Will they become one of those awful people who dip pizza in ranch? This checklist, from the registered dietitian, author, and mom at Raise Healthy Eaters, explains the best practices in starting to feed your baby solids and how to mitigate all that stuff you can’t control. That pizza business, though? That’s on you, man. Here are the 5 most important things to note:
1. When To Start … Really Could Be Clearer
Your kid’s GI system is technically ready for solids around 4-6 months, but all the big health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6. As with so many things baby, consult your pediatrician.
2. Order Doesn’t Matter
Start with foods rich in zinc, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin, all of which are deficient in breast milk (sorry, mom). As far as fruits before veggies or vice versa, the only eating sequence you need to teach your kid is: Appetizer, Soup, Salad, Entrée, Dessert.
3. Allergies Are Serious — Don’t Be Rash
When introducing new foods, wait 2-3 days before adding something to the mix and check for reactions like rashes, trouble breathing, and “I had no idea it could be that explosive” diarrhea. A few notes on “cure” myths: 1) Starting solids later than 4-6 months won’t necessarily stop food allergies. 2) Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 4 months helps mitigate wheezing, eczema, and cow’s milk allergies. 3) Copious Bamba consumption might prevent peanut allergies and is definitely delicious.
4. Do Not Eat The Red Rope Licorice
A few major no-nos for baby’s plate: choking hazards (nuts, whole grapes, chunks of fruit and meat, other things you’re smart enough to identify), whole milk (no iron), and honey and corn syrup in Year One (mmm, botulism spores). It doesn’t make them a picky eater if they’re avoiding it because it could kill them.
5. Do Sweat The Technique
How you feed them matters. Always supervise tiny ones during meals, make eye contact, feed directly, encourage without forcing, and respond to their cues when they want more or have had enough. Remember what a disaster it was when Grandma forced you to join the Clean Plate Club?