My son is now 5-months old and I'm thinking about introducing solid foods. I know that most pediatricians recommend that you only do breast milk up to 6 months, but I'd like to start sooner because (a) he seems to be hungry all the time, (b) I'm a little concerned about my milk supply these days -- my breasts are nowhere near as full as they used to be, especially towards the end of the day, (c) my son is VERY interested in food (and drinks) and (d) I'm going back to work in about a month and want to have an established routine by then.
I'm thinking about skipping rice cereal as it has zero nutritional value and start with sweet potato and avocado and then add fruits such as banana and pear. Does anyone have tips as far as introducing solids? If I skip the rice cereal, should I be concerned about my son's iron intake?
asked byPaleo_Mom (75)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on January 06, 2011
at 06:25 AM
I would start with the avocado then non-sweet vegetables. Starting with sweet foods may set you up for difficult times when it comes to introducing non-sweet foods. The iron in the rice cereal is there because it's added. If you're concerned with his iron, just give iron-fortified infant vitamin drops.
on January 06, 2011
at 07:41 AM
My son at 5 months started salivating and making little chewing motions when we ate solid foods at the table with him - a bit like how a dog does actually! So we gave him fruit and it felt right and worked out. My daughter showed no such interest, so we just gradually introduced solids to her from 6 months onwards. I think it's important to trust your gut with them - your points (a) to (c) seem to suggest he wants to have some solids, so I would go with that.
As to what to have - stewed fruits are easy to make and easy to eat for the baby. Pear and apple are both very easy to make (and seasonal now depending on where you live I suppose...). I did give my daughter a little rice cereal, but stopped after a while as I realised fruit was preferable. Once they get going, it doesn't take long to progress them onto other things (including minute bits of meat), so I wouldn't worry about his iron levels.
on January 06, 2011
at 10:14 AM
Skip the fruits. Not only are you forcing their liver to start processing fructose early, you may inadvertently be encouraging a sweet tooth. Not to mention feeding the bad bacteria at a time that the baby is just developing the initial bacteria that may control their guts for life.
PaNu has a new post up referencing the fruit baby theory too. http://www.paleonu.com/
I think your strategy should revolve around optimum nutrition, minimal lectin/minimal fructose.
Meat can be pur??ed. That's optimal in my opinion. Sweet potatoes are probably fine, and I keep breast milk in the mix while you're still producing any at all.
on January 06, 2011
at 11:08 AM
I'd have a look at this: http://nourishedkitchen.com/baby-led-weaning/ It's Weston A Price based, but has a lot of good advice in it. I've heard from several sources that the first food mothers give their babies in some cultures is liver- and over at cheeseslave.com she freezes it and then grates it onto whatever she gives her toddler. That would cover the iron and many other nutrients in one go!
on January 06, 2011
at 02:55 PM
Yes, definitely skip the cereal! I started my last baby with broth, and soon progressed to meat, either finely chopped, pureed, or I pre-chewed it myself. That was his only non-breast-milk food for a few months. It's still his hands-down favourite, though he eats a little cheese, eggs, vegetable and fruit now at 14 months. I'm very glad, because I think it is superior food.
As for when, the recommendation until recently was 4-6 months old and sitting up unassisted, but I think the main criterion is the baby's own interest. If he's actively interested, I think it's fair to let him eat. OTOH, if he's hungry and you don't allow him to eat, that could set up an inappropriate relationship with food.
on January 06, 2011
at 04:06 PM
Ignore doctors and health visitors - your son will tell you when he wants solid food. I realised it was time to start giving solid food to my daughter when she started grabbing food off my plate (She was carried constantly). But that does not mean weaning. 'Natural' children will continue to suckle long after they are getting their nutritional intake from other food - there is more to breast feeding than just nutrition. A scraped knee, a scary dog, feeling sleepy - all these might initiate a quick suckle - even if it is only a minute, then they are back off doing their own thing. We went abroad with my son when he was 18 months old and he refused to eat any of the food we had in the restaurants so he lived on breast milk and oranges for a fortnight - even though he'd only been suckling to get to sleep before that. Babies have their own in-built schedule and one of the (many) side-effects of modern living is that we have lost the ability to read it. Let the child lead the way.
on January 06, 2011
at 01:14 PM
I don't necessarily read your question as concerning when to wean as when to introduce solids - because most breastfed babies over 6 months consume solids and breastmilk both. I know what you're talking about - both my babies (each over 97th percentile in all aspects of growth) started nursing like starving maniacs around 5 months old; for both of my daughters I introduced solids at 5.5 months after having breastfed exclusively up to that point. I think there are some good guidelines out there for gauging when your baby is ready, but chief among them is whether your baby's tongue thrust reflex (present to help avoid choking) has started to subside. Feel free to try it; offer your baby a little bit of something very soft on a baby spoon when you feel the baby is ready, and watch the tongue: if it immediately tries to thrust out/"reject" the food, even with a couple of additional gentle offerings, then maybe wait another couple of weeks if you can. While your baby may love trying new foods, solid food meals may only remain a few spoonfuls at a time at most for many months - hence the expression "food before 1 just for fun". Over time as you introduce new tastes and his hand-eye coordination improves, you may find yourself delighted and jaw agape as he gobbles down mouthful after mouthful of food from his high chair tray with his bare hands.
From early on, my youngest daughter (now 1 year old, still breastfed) has had a love affair with meat. Finely shredded steak, slow cooked pot roast, chicken, etc. Don't be afraid of introducing size and texture appropriate bites of animal protein. Also, provided that dairy is well-tolerated, butter, whole fat cheeses, eggs, whole milk yoghurt can be introduced fairly early on - try something new every couple of days as you rule out allergies. (A few years ago it used to be said that the yolk should be given earlier than the egg white, but now the newly-formed consensus - even by mainstream docs - seems to be that as long as there's no family history of egg allergies it is OK to give both white and yolk in a baby-friendly texture.)
A note about breastfeeding, solids, and iron - when your baby reaches around 6 months of age, even if he had exclusively breastfed, the iron stores that he was born with will begin to deplete. Around this time or the 9 month checkup, your pediatrician may do a finger prick anemia test, and if iron levels are low, he/she may recommend a baby iron supplement.
Depending on how low iron levels would be, you may be able to negotiate waiting a few months of feeding iron-rich foods (and cooking in a cast-iron pan) and retesting before going straight to the supplement. Always feed iron rich foods with some vitamin C source (as vitamin C helps iron to be absorbed from the digestive tract). If you can avoid dairy when giving iron rich foods (as with beef, liver, egg yolk, etc.) that would be good, since dairy tends to block iron absorption.
And if you and your pediatrician don't want to rely solely on foods, I highly recommend Floravital. It's a German-made gluten-free, dye-free, preservative-free iron supplement. In my youngest daughter's case, I gave her the odd 5 ml dose every few days (this is half of the child's dose recommended on the bottle). I also gave her lots of iron rich foods, particularly animal protein (though we don't have a cast-iron pan...yet), and between her 9 month and 12 month checkups, and her pediatrician was impressed with the change in hemacrit results and said that we should simply carry on with the same 'program'. Obviously, every case and baby is different, so talk through these dynamics with your pediatrician to determine what's right for your son. I just wanted you to know about a terrific product that didn't have lots of chemical additives and actually (having tasted it myself - like slightly metallic grape juice) tastes pretty good.
Also, if you remain concerned about supply issues, I highly recommend:
Organic Mother's Milk Tea - an herbal tea designed to boost supply. In my case, I had a few months with my oldest (when she was 7 months through 13 months) where I was pumping at my office and needed to get through a few tight spots supply-wise. I'd say that a couple of bags of this every day boosted my pumped milk by about 30%. Don't take just my word for it; read the reviews on Amazon.
If you haven't already, consider fenugreek, a traditional herbal supplement used for ages by lactating mothers, also very highly rated. (I've used with decent results.)
Squeezing in an additional pumping (say, at night, after baby is asleep) might help boost supply. Can always freeze the milk for later outings - see these tips on milk storage and handling.
Congratulations to you on having continued to breastfeed! Like the Peace Corps, I've heard it said: "The toughest job you'll ever love." Good luck as you start work again; feel free to shoot me an email at primalkitchen at gmail dot com and I will gladly share any pumping/solids intro experience and advice gained along the way.
on January 07, 2011
at 04:36 AM
i was unable to breastfeed either of my kiddos because of the meds i was on for my MS, so i started to feed them solids around 5 months, too to get some good stuff in them. i skipped rice cereal, too. both of them had avo mashed with formula (or breastmilk) first. my son didnt care for it, my daughter gobbled it up. by nine months old, both kids were eating three meals a day of whatever i was eating, minus the salt and spicy spices. using bone broth to dilute some solids in puree is a good idea too, provided its not salted. blueberries and cranberries were a big hit. peas, not so much. bananas, of course were a favorite. i made some custards that both kids loved, too and it was a way to get eggs into them.
keep in mind that an infant has about four times the tastebuds that a grownup has, and they naturally are attracted more towards the sweet than the savory (because sweet things are less likely to be poison, paleo-baby), but keep introducing it even if its initially rejected a few times. just because they prefer sweet doesnt mean we have to load them up on it though. i see s many parents doing nothing but banana because thats what the kids likes most. well, duh.
my daughter had an accident at 9 months old (perforated esophagus after a battery ingestion- AWFUL!!) so we had her on purees for quite a while, and on some very high fat foods to help her gain weight after being intubated for so long. coconut milk and greek yogurt came to the rescue. i made a tropical fruit popcicle for her that she still lvoes now at almost three- puree coconut milk with papaya and some cinnamon and freeze in ice cube trays with a little popsicle stick in there as a handle. www.wholesomebabyfood.com is a great site with a lot of recipe ideas, as is www.homemade-baby-food-recipes.com. i used both sites a lot.
ETA: im sorry- i totally forgot to address the iron issue. my daughter wasnt very interested in meat at all, so the iron was something i was always buzzing about in my head, too. some tricks i used: the custard has a lot of egg yolks, desiccated liver in her purees (sometimes she caught on what with that sensitive baby palate), use a cast iron pan to cook the food in. those were helpful, but the really big thing was making one meal a day be an IRON MEAL. since iron absorption is limited by calcium and dairy, and is enhanced by vitamin C, i would have her iron meal (normally breakfast) be iron-rich foods paired with vitamin c containing foods, and give water to drink. i would hold off on ay dairy for two hours after that. so, eggs with kiwi and spinach with beets are two meals off the top of my head. i also did do grains and beans later on, when she was a toddler. bobs red mill makes some multi grain hot cereals that have up to like 20% RDA iron for an adult, so i would make some of that with strawberries for breakfast. we have a heirloom bean farm in the next town, so i would get a few varieties of beans (dry) from him and put them in a coffee grinder until it was flour, then soak and cook into a porridge. its pretty bland tasting, so easy to mix into vegetable purees for added protein and iron, etc. i jumped through hoops for her. my son, on the other hand, had no issue with that- the kid would eat nothing but beef and blueberries if i let him.
good luck! you'll do great.
on April 08, 2011
at 08:22 PM
My first two children, born in the sixties, were breastfed, with supplementation of cereal at around 6 months, following "conventional wisdom". Breastfeeding at that time was not in fashion, and I succeeded with the help of La Leche League. My daughter was born 10 years later, and didn't want babyfood. I didn't push food and when she was a year old, she started eating off the table, and continued to breastfeed until three. That made me think that we should wait until babies express interest in eating what we are eating.