Category Archives: feeding

Starting Solids

When to start solids is a common parenting question. The simple answer is, between four to six months of age. However, it’s really not that simple.

Each child is different and has cues that let parents know when they are ready to try solids. The first cue parents should look for is interest in foods. Does the child watch other people eat? Reach out to try and pick up a handful off someone’s plate? These things indicate interest.

Other cues are things like posture, tongue thrust, leaning forward and opening mouth. The child should be sitting up for food to go down the esophagus correctly. Tongue thrust should be gone. When the spoon comes near the mouth, if the tongue thrusts out and pushed the spoon away, this is an indication that the child is not ready.

A child who is interested in food, will lean forward toward the spoon as it approaches. Turning the head away or leaning away from it indicates the child is not ready. Opening the mouth in anticipation of the food is another good indicator that the child is ready.

Try finger foods that the child can feed to him or herself. This lets the child control what and how much goes in. Introduce foods one at a time so that if there is an allergic reaction to anything, it’s easy to tell what caused it.

Good first foods to offer are any of the baby cereals. Some baby’s tolerate the oatmeal better than the rice, though rice is traditionally offered first. Rice, Oatmeal or Barely are all good choices. Vegetables and fruits next. Baby jar food is fine, but some babies prefer regular table food mashed or blended. Homemade baby food can be made in a blender by adding breast milk, water or formula to vegetables or fruits and blending them. Meats should be introduced last.

Introducing solids before a baby is ready can cause tummy aches and constipation.

Infant and Toddler Feeding Issues

Problems can sometimes arise when feeding infants and toddlers. Knowing what’s typical and what isn’t can help parents know when to consult with a doctor or dietician.

Understanding that it is typical, for instance, for two year olds to go on food jags or to sometimes be picky or light eaters, helps keep parents from undue panic.

Most children do not eat a balanced diet at any given meal. Instead, as long as the parents are offering a wide variety of healthy foods, children’s diet will be balanced over the course of a week. This may look like eating only grapes at one meal, nothing but chicken nuggets at another and only their favorite cereal for two days. At the end of the week though, that child has eaten from each food group.

If a child seems to have frequent constipation, diarrhea or vomiting, there may be an allergy or intolerance to one or more foods.

Waiting too late to introduce solids can also lead to a child who is resistant to having anything other milk go into his or her mouth. Typically, solids should be introduced around six months but not later than seven to ten.

Every child is different, some signs that your child is ready for solids are the ability to sit up, loss of tongue thrust which pushes food out of the mouth, and an interest in what you are eating.

Some children have sensory integration issues and need help learning to tolerate the different smells, tastes and textures that go along with eating.

While the child’s pediatrician is always a good resource, parents should be aware that Registered Dieticians are also available and have had much more extensive training on food and nutrition than doctors are given. They are an excellent but under used resource.