As many of you may already know, there is quite the debate in the parenting community over when it is safe to start feeding your baby solid foods. I found out the hard way several months ago that some people get pretty riled up about this topic. From my experience, there seems to be three main groups people fall into, though everyone is different, of course.
The first group are those who start feeding their baby solid foods around 4 months of age. While some parents do this simply because they feel their child is ready, there are some doctors who still recommend this age to start baby on oatmeal, rice cereal, etc. Some people, however, argue that babies’ digestive systems are not fully developed yet by this point and therefore shouldn’t be eating anything other than formula and/or breast milk.
The second group consists of parents who start feeding their baby “real” food around 6 months of age. Many people feel that their children’s sensitive tummies are developed well enough by this point to handle solid food. From my personal experience, this seems to be the most common “group”. Most of the websites and books I have looked at on what and when to start feeding baby solid food have 6 months as a jumping off point. Does this mean it’s the correct, appropriate age? Not necessarily. We’ll go more into that in a minute.
Finally, parents who wait until their children are around 9 months of age make up the third group. Again, just from my experience, these tend to be “crunchier” mamas. If you’re not sure what crunchy means in this instance, check out this link. Most crunchy moms are more concerned about exclusively breast-feeding and baby led weaning, hence not giving their children real food until they are older babies. Even then, a lot of them like to cut up regular food into small pieces and let baby eat it that way instead of making purees like most parents are accustomed to nowadays.
If you’re anything like me as a first time mom, you enjoy researching baby-related topics, such as this. However, it can also become extremely overwhelming with the amount of information that is available on the internet. This may seem kind of obvious or stupid, but keep a few things in mind. Remember, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true! While websites with forums, such as babycenter, can be great for connecting with other like-minded parents and gaining helpful tips, everyone is different. What works for one person with his/her children may not work for you!
Also, while I’m not telling you to blatantly disregard your pediatrician’s suggestions, just because he/she is a doctor doesn’t always mean they know what’s best for your child. You alone know that. Use common sense. Trust your instincts. If you ever have any doubts or concerns, DISCUSS it with your doctor. In my opinion, all babies should not be “prescribed” the same set age for beginning solid foods. Some babies are ready sooner than others.
In case you’re wondering what group I fall into, the answer is somewhere between the first and second. It’s funny looking back a few years ago when I babysat a couple of young boys and think about how I felt about the then 6 month old eating solid food. At the time I thought, “He seems way too young to be eating solid food!” Fast forward 3 years later and my now 8 month old daughter has been eating solid food for several months. Funny how your attitudes and opinions chance when it’s your OWN child, isn’t it?
Being the overly paranoid first time mom that I was/am, I followed our pediatrician’s suggestion and started trying to feed Myka whole grain rice cereal around the time she was 4 months old. As it turns out, I had confused her general curiosity for her being curious in my food, which is said to be a sign babies are ready to try solid food. I thought she was ready to eat! (Wishful thinking.) So, we would try a few times per week, some weeks not at all, until she was about 6 months old. Basically, the opportunity was there for her, but we didn’t force her to eat it.
As of today, Myka has tried all kinds of fruits and veggies, even beets! (Some people would probably argue that she’s still too young for those, too.) Just like anyone, she has her favorites, ones she will tolerate, and ones that, if she could speak, would probably tell me she never wants to eat ever again. I still try to get her to eat some of the ones she doesn’t care for as much every now and then, but I don’t force her to eat all of it. Maybe just a few bites. ;) I just hope she isn’t as picky of an eater as I am and that us feeding her healthy food will rub off on us as well!I’m curious: Where do YOU stand in the debate? Are you a hardcore believer in waiting until 9 months to feed your child real food, or do you fall somewhere in between groups? Did you puree food for your little ones or did you wait until they were able to eat tiny, bite-sized, finger food? Did you follow the “normal routine” as far as introducing veggies first, then fruits, etc. or did you perhaps feed meat to your baby as one of their first foods? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! (Remember: Every parent is different and every child is different. Let’s be civilized about this discussion, please. Thanks!)