So this week we are celebrating National Hamburger Day. In honor of this delicious day I thought that I would talk about introducing solids into your child’s life. I don’t know about you, but I was super excited to move on from simply giving my child a bottle multiple times a day. I couldn’t wait to see how receptive she was to these new sensations – feelings, tastes, smells, etc.
I knew as an Occupational Therapist that my child was ready to start solids…she had teeth, she was able to sit independently in her high chair without slumping over, she seemed interested in what my husband and I were eating and on more than one occasion she actually grabbed my husband’s sandwich and tried to put it in her mouth.
As a new mom I was still a bit hesitant. So I did what any mother does…I called the pediatrician and asked her permission. At the time, my child was 6 months old so my doctor gave me the thumbs up.
Then my therapy brain took over and I started researching. What foods should I give her first? How should I present them to her? What if she doesn’t seem to like it, then what do I do?
After scouring the internet I turned to my trusty KTMS Speech Therapist, Anna Gross, MS, CCC-SLP, who happens to not only specialize in feeding, but is also a mother of 2 young children herself. These are the pointers she gave me:
- Once your child can sit independently (upright) in an appropriate chair, sit at their level so that s/he isn’t looking up at you – which can actually lead to a choking incident as it opens the airway.
- Since your child is still receiving the majority of their calories from breastmilk/formula, choose one meal per day to begin to expose them to solids. You don’t need to give them solids/purees at every meal time. Start slow, at first we’re really just concerned about exposure to new things.
- When starting out, introduce one food at a time. Wait at least 3-4 days in between foods so that you can monitor your baby’s reactions and any possible sensitivities or allergies they may have (symptoms of this can include cough, stomach discomfort, more burping or spit-up than normal, any type of rash or change in stool).
- DO NOT expect your baby to like solids the first time you introduce them. It may take 10 or more times for your child to enjoy a new food. Your baby has been eating the same thing every day for many months…adapting to something new is not always easy…but don’t give up!
Also, don’t worry about making a mess. That’s what baths are for. If your child dives into the bowl and spreads that food all over the high chair and themselves, that’s ok. They are EXPERIENCING their meal. The experience of a meal is much more than how it tastes. Expect a mess.
My daughter and I began our solids journey with cereal and pureed vegetables. As she became more accustomed to the sensation and tastes, we slowly moved towards meltables (thing puffs, cheerios, anything that will eventually dissolve in your mouth regardless of whether or not you actually chew them).
I am pleased to report that at almost 2 years of age she is a very well rounded eater. I only ‘brag’ about this because I, myself, was a VERY difficult eater until I was about 15 years of age. My diet consisted of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, Spaghetti-O’s, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread with ONLY strawberry jelly. I didn’t each an actual turkey sandwich until I was about 14 years old…avocado (which many years later is now one of my favorite foods) was discovered at 25. I still experience anxiety if I go to a restaurant and the items on the menu look too ‘frou-frou’ or ‘fancy’.
So the moral of the above is…don’t give up. It can sometimes take over 10 tries until your child actually likes something that you offer them. Just keep it up and stick with it! 🙂