Starting babies on solids is something all mothers think about, some wonder when the soonest they can introduce a baby to solids is, others want to put it off as long as possible. Every family needs to choose a method that works for them; it’s my belief that not only are all babies different, but all families are different as well. Here’s what we did, as well as what Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions advises and Dr Natasha Campbell McBride of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
You can see in this monster post about childbirth, breastfeeding, and babies that I like to research this stuff, but then when it comes down to it, I don’t stress if what I believe to be best isn’t actually feasible on our particular family.
How I Introduced Solids
I was super relaxed about feeding solids to my kids. I waited until they met the ‘baby led weaning’ criteria (could sit up unassisted, were at least 6 months old, had at least one tooth) and then offered some whole single-ingredient foods to them. Usually this was off my plate, sometimes while they were sitting in a high chair in the kitchen with me. Both of my children had no interest in swallowing solids until about a year. I would offer a couple times a week (it’s messy! I’m lazy and don’t want to clean mashed squash from the ears of a baby who isn’t actually eating anything!) and see when they started swallowing food.
Upon the advice of our naturopath, I did keep my daughter from grains until she was about 1-1/2, and then some cereal crept into our diet for a while. My son started solids just as we were starting GAPS (his first birthday ‘cake’ was whipped butternut squash with some salt and a candle!) so he has been primarily grain free his whole life.
So, I breastfed. I breastfed my babies on demand; my daughter nursed all.the.time. and my son often went 4-5 hours between feedings from birth. My children were totally different sizes; my daughter being about 6.5 lbs at birth, and my son 11 (yes, 11). Different babies are different, that’s why it’s so important to research things like feeding, but then watch your individual baby and do what is working for them. On my children’s totally different feeding schedules they both grew, and both were happy, so it worked.
You can see in the picture above that I got a little thin making milk that met the calorie requirements for a one-year-old, but both my kids were quite pudgy even at 12 months existing completely on breastmilk.
Once solids were introduced, I watched for reactions and then pretty much just fed my young toddlers table food. Knowing what I know now, I would try to keep my baby on GAPS until 2 years to establish good gut flora and provide added nutrition during the early years. Once I saw my baby didn’t react to any of the big things (nuts, eggs, dairy) I didn’t stress about introducing foods individually.
I continued to nurse, mostly at night, until 2-1/2 for my daughter and nearly 3 for my son, then I did wean them. It was an easy thing to do at that time and didn’t feel traumatic, I mostly chose the time to wean them based on our life circumstances- I weaned my daughter shortly after her brother was born and I saw that she was making the adjustment just fine. I weaned my son shortly after we moved, and again, the transition was made just fine. I was hesitant to wean before a major life change for them, so I just waited til after.
Some things that worked for me:
- Don’t stress if they don’t eat, they will eventually (I questioned this a lot around 11-12 months with my daughter!)
- If your baby is still hungry and is breastfed, look up block feeding to encourage them to get the fatty hind milk out
- Salt their food! Use real salt to taste. Babies need salt.
- Hold off on sweet foods like cooked fruit until baby is eating proteins and veggies.
- Smile, nod, and do what you were previously doing when given well meaning advice about feeding your child.
- Watch your baby like a hawk when you think someone might slip them some unauthorized food. Don’t be afraid of offending them, nobody needs to be giving your infant a lick of a lolly pop and it’s your job as a parent to protect them.
- Don’t stress if your baby is ready for solids early, some babies are. Trust their bodies.
- Introduce fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and liver early, most babies like these.
- Tea tree oil topically relieved mastitis :)
- Fenugreek tea boosted my supply, but I also think it made my milk more sugary, make sure baby is getting enough hind milk.
Nourishing Traditions on Feeding Babies
Gut and Psychology Syndrome on Feeding Babies
- Homemade meat or fish stock, no salt, start with 1-2 teaspoons starting at 6 months for a breastfed baby.
- Freshly pressed vegetable juice diluted with warm water between meals, carrot then cabbage and celery
- Add probiotic food to stock, start with 1/2 teaspoon a day: Whey, sauerkraut juice, yogurt
- Vegetable soup or puree from peeled and deseeded well cooked veggies and stock (no starchy foods like potatoes or yams)
- Boiled meats
- Ripe avocado
- Raw organic egg yolk added to vegetable soup
- Cooked apple as apple puree, butter, coconut oil, or ghee added
- Pancakes made with nutbutter, squash, and eggs
- Add fresh apples to veggie juice
- Raw vegetables: Lettuce, peeled cucumber, carrot, celery, cabbage- all blended/pureed
- Gently scrambled egg with raw butter
- Ripe raw apple without skin
- Ripe banana with brown spots (fruit should be given away from meats)
- Homemade cottage cheese
- Grain free bread
- Small amounts of natural salt
- Table foods that are GAPS approved
Heather of Mommypotamus wrote Nourished Baby, which talks more about what to feed your baby and why.
Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck