Stories of life in the suburbs with Husband and our daughter Squishy and son Button!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baby Guide: Starting Solids

True or False: You should start feeding your baby on solids at 4 months old.

The fact that you don't have an answer right away proves my point...

How many times do I have to say it?! All babies are different. You have to remind yourself that you are the expert on your baby. You'll know when your little one is ready to move up in the food world. Actually, after doing a lot of research on my own, I found this topic to be very controversial. Here is some information that I found really helpful.  However, before you read any further, here is my disclaimer. *DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained medical professional, dietitian, pediatrician, etc. Always do what is best for your family.

Moving right along...

Squishy's four month appointment with our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. Baby, went very well. Squishy's development was right on track, she was gaining plenty of weight with the soy formula, and she was deemed "perfect" by Dr. Baby with the exception of her skin issues. Her eczema is a lifelong fight, so we take it one day at a time. We were also told that she could start solids. Could does not mean should in every case.

As a new parent, I'm always waiting for what's next with my baby. When will she roll over? When will she crawl? What's her first word going to be? I wouldn't say it's necessarily "hard" to live in the now with a new baby. But when the whole world is in front of them, we can sometimes get lost in our own day dreams of opportunity. We always want what's next. At four months old, what's next is the possibility of starting solids.

Husband and I went home from that appointment knowing that we were not starting solids at four months old. First, we wanted to wait until after our pediatric allergist appointment, in case he had anything to say about Squishy's food allergies. Second, I found some information about baby development that gave me an "A-ha" kind of moment when it came to the question of when to start solids. I decided to follow this set of guidelines.

Don't start solids until:
  • Baby weighs 15 pounds or doubles birth weight.
  • Baby can sit with some assistance. 
  • Baby can hold head steady.
  • Making chewing motions, not just sucking.
  • Watching or showing interest in adults eating food.
  • The extrusion reflex or "spit out" reflex is gone. 
They all make sense to me, but the last one convinced me. I found that the reflex to spit out solid food is linked to intestinal maturity. Isn't the human body amazing that a baby's brain will tell the tongue to "Spit that out!" because it's intestines can't digest it properly yet? I thought that was incredible.

We went to see our pediatric allergist, Dr. Tiny Allergies, when Squishy was 4 1/2 months old. He was highly accredited and his office was a 5 minute drive away from our apartment. It's like a double bonus (or a double rainbow). He gave us great news in regards to Squishy's allergies to milk and eggs. Pending another blood test when she's two years old, she has a 75-95% chance of outgrowing her milk and egg allergies. So on top of no eggs, milk, or nuts, we were to avoid wheat until she was re-tested.

Once a week I would make a tiny amount of baby rice cereal and test Squishy's extrusion reflex. It was around 5 1/2 months that her tongue started moving food to the back of her throat and she started swallowing the cereal. I was really excited! I introduced each new food item carefully, and watched for allergic reactions. Research suggests that a baby should have one food for at least three days at a time. I mixed the flavors with a bit of rice cereal. She enjoyed everything except peas. Also, Squishy was an automatic pro at eating. She was never messy. I attribute this skill to waiting until she was ready to eat solids rather than forcing the spoon on her.

After her 6 month appointment with Dr. Baby, we moved to level two foods, avoiding oatmeal mixes (they contain wheat). Squishy is still on a predominantly soy formula diet, and will be for the rest of her first year. She still gets a solid meal twice a day. She will eat a four ounce jar of fruit straight or a vegetable mixed with a little rice cereal. She loves eating! She opens her mouth for every bite, chews and inspects each new flavor, and never spits it out. If she doesn't like something she'll keep her mouth open and make a gross face until the whole bite falls out.

Tell me your "starting solids" story! What's your baby's favorite food to eat?

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