healthy families blog

Primer for starting solids


A Primer for Starting Solids

My niece is almost six months old and her parents are starting to think about starting her on solid foods. She loves to have her stroller pulled up to the dinner table so she can be with the family and watch us—mainly Big J and Little J—eat and talk. She’s learning about how to eat and behave at the table. This is all good exposure for her and I think she’s going to enjoy eating as much as the rest of our family does.

She’s not quite ready for solids yet, though, as she can’t sit up on her own. It could happen in the next few weeks, in which case she may be ready for her first bites of food. I was talking to my brother and sister-in-law last night about her readiness and explained to them that there is nothing magical about six months for starting solids. She may or not be ready. Both of my girls started spoon feeding at about six and a half months of age and while Big J took to it immediately, Little J wasn’t super into it until she was eight months old. We never forced Little J to eat in that six week period, we just continued to bring her to the table with us for family meals and gave her opportunities to eat. Then one day she magically woke up to food and started eating enthusiastically. Looking back, I would not have done anything differently, but I could see how most parents and caregivers would have been discouraged or impatient with her progress. That’s how feeding errors can happen.

When you’re a parent, you have to expect that things won’t go the way you planned. When it comes to feeding, children can be very unpredictable and very strong-willed. The best thing we parents can do to make feeding go well (which doesn’t mean taking the easy way out with feeding) is respecting them and their their own eating style. That means being tuned in and sensitive to their eating and respecting their appetites (big or little). Feeding expert Ellyn Satter has so many great resources for starting solids with babies. In addition to Division of Responsibility in Feeding, which is the foundation for how to feed, I also recommend reading 5 to 9 months: Feeding Your Older Baby and Feeding the First Year.

Be Healthy,

- Jessica