At some point, baby will need more than breast milk. When is a point of stress for mamas and contention with pediatricians.
As an experienced mama, let me reassure you that baby will show you when she’s ready!
If a pediatrician is telling you “x months,” ask him what the signs of readiness are. No baby x months is the same as another baby of x months.
Signs of readiness for solids typically include:
- Loss of tongue thrust,
- Sits unassisted (well),
- Demonstrates a pincer grasp
This will happen at many different ages!
My sweet girl has checked all of those boxes for some time, so I’ve offered table food to her. It is her choice whether she eats it or not (same for every age! – If you need insights on a kid who just won’t eat, check out the Division of Responsibility by Ellyn Satter.).
My older children weren’t interested in solids until around 14 months. No big deal because children should rely on breast milk for primary nutrition until at least a year. And they STILL need that breast milk nutrition in the second year! (If breast milk is not available, the Weston A Price homemade formula is FABULOUS!)
So what types of foods shall a new person start on?
I wish I could say they eat whatever parents eat – but we all know that lots of us are eating foods not good for our bodies. (No way should my baby’s perfect gut have take out Taiwanese popcorn chicken and fried rice or my milk tea with boba!)
Instead, babies should eat real food. In our family, we typically follow a no GLeNS diet until the second molars erupt around two years old. That means no grains, no legumes, no nuts, no seeds. Why? Baby’s pancreas doesn’t produce the required amylase to properly digest those foods until that older age.
GLeNS can be controversial. Some people assert that baby can eat those if the foods are traditionally prepared and part of the family’s culture. So could my girls have a little congee? Maybe. I didn’t freak out when our family gave it to my older girls as infants.
What are some great foods for baby?
Bone broth, grated liver, liver pate, egg yolks, fermented dairy, butternut squash, winter squash, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, turnips, rutabega, parsnips, carrots, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, okra, asparagus, avocado, cabbage, onion, garlic, leeks, bok choy, jicama, etc, etc, etc.
If I could offer a few other points, I would also say:
- I typically don’t give citrus foods until well after a year. They can just be problematic for babies causing red dots around the mouth (ruh-roh!) or give a red anus. No thanks!
- Foods should be an appropriate texture for whatever baby’s chewing ability is and all things firm are very very small – no choking hazards.
- Don’t shy away from spices and sauces on food – kiddos appreciate flavor and diversity!
- Focus on umami, savory, and bitter flavors well before introducing sweet flavors. Hello, fish sauce!
How did I learn all of this? Lots of great friends holding my hand, holistic health groups (like the Holistic Families Association), and the Weston A Price Foundation books like Nourishing Traditions (and individual chapter leaders). I’d be remiss to leave out Food Renegade’s blog on ditching the infant cereal – be sure to read it!
Gut health drives everything: mood, academics, growth, immunity, etc. Give it all ya got for your babies’ health! While you’re at it, let your eating be transformed, too!