JUDGEMENT-FREE POST: Please note that this not how you *should* do things. This is just a window into how I did things, and I relied mostly on my instincts. Do what feels right mama. *Should precedes shame* so I strongly encourage you not to *should yourself*! Parenting is hard enough as it is. You’re doing great!!
Introducing foods to your baby can be a fun, but also intimidating process. The best advice I can give is to (a) understand when a baby is ready for food, (b) identify your goal with food intro and (c) have a few resources you can trust!
When Is A Baby Ready For Food?
There are 3 things you want to look for:
- Interest. Ideally your kid is expressing an interest in what you’re doing when you’re eating. They might want to grab your food, or try putting things in their mouth. This is a little tricky, because as of 4 months most babies put everything into their mouths, and suddenly are a lot more interested in the world, so this isn’t the only consideration for being food-ready.
- Sitting Up Independently. For safety reasons, it is best if your kid can sit up, mostly unassisted. Sticking them in the bumbo doesn’t count!
- No More Tongue-Thrust Reflux. The tongue thrust reflex is an important safety reflex in newborns. If something solid gets in their mouth, the tongue automatically pushes it away, to protect the airway. This tends to disappear somewhere between 4-7 months. (NOTE: I struggled to find a video showing the tongue-thrust reflex, other than this one, but I’m posting cautiously. I promise I’m not judging this family, it’s just a great example of the reflex!)
My 2 Goals with Food Intro
NUTRITION: My first goal was nutrition – obviously! Breastmilk is notoriously low in iron and zinc, and no matter how many supplements you take, it won’t become sufficient for your kiddo. That’s why the recommendation from the medical community is to start with iron-fortified grains. Since I am a real-foodie, the idea of using a fortified food as a first food doesn’t sit well with me. Not to mention grains are full of anti-nutrients that actually inhibit nutrient absorption and can contribute to poor gut-health. A lot of real-foodies, or those who follow baby-led weaning principles, choose root veggies as an alternative. But, those don’t contain the nutrients babies need! So instead, I went straight to the source of iron…meat, specifically liver. The first food that we gave Baby H was pate – specifically my friend Megan Garcia’s Pate. Although I modified the recipe to be dairy-free (I used bone broth and coconut oil), and I used ingredients I had on hand such as chicken livers (instead of beef), rosemary and a gala apple.
FUN & FLAVOUR: To avoid becoming too clinical about food, I also started introducing fun, high-flavour foods. While babies don’t need fruits & vegetables til around 1 year, I played around with them to help develop her palate. I took a page out of the book French Kids Eat Anything (stay tuned for a post on this amazing book) and started with fun soups. I also did not worry about introducing one food at a time, since that (a) didn’t make intuitive sense to me (b) there’s no evidence to back that up and (c) food should taste good, not bland! So my soups contained big flavours like cumin, ginger, coriander, and even Thai curry! Things we wanted to eat!
Check out my post on Favourite Foods at 6 Months!
Megan Garcia – my friend Megan is a wonderful resource. She has a ton of free information to get you started. But even better, she has a course you can take, which walks you through nutrition and introducing foods to your baby! Great for anyone who wants to go into this stage with all the knowledge and confidence!
CanDo Kiddo – I subscribe to Rachel’s newsletter, and there was one video that really resonated with me. It showed the stages of muscle development as a child learns to move food through their mouth. It was absolutely fascinating. She also has great info on her blog, as well as a course you can take to boost confidence!