3 Mistakes Parents Often Make When Starting Solids
3 Mistakes Parents Often Make When Starting Solids
Starting solids can be stressful if you’re not sure how to begin! Guidelines change all the time, too. So it’s common for pediatricians to give outdated advice. And forget about friends or family with older kids! Things have changed since they were babies. Read through these common mistakes parents make when starting solids so you can feel confident when it’s time to move beyond the breast and bottle.
Mistake #1: Starting Too Soon
It’s an exciting time, when your baby is able to start trying real food. Sometimes, parents just don’t want to wait anymore and start feeding their babies too soon. I still hear people saying that babies will sleep longer if they start solids, even though there’s good research saying that’s not true.
Some recommendations say babies can start solids at 4 to 6 months, but I would argue for waiting until closer to 6 months, which is in line with the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastmilk (or formula) meets 100% of baby’s needs when they are under 6 months. The digestive tract is also still developing and maturing. This is something we can’t see, obviously. But it’s best to give it enough time to be ready to handle a variety of solid foods.
It’s also important to wait until baby is developmentally ready. They should be sitting up on their own (it’s okay if they’re still a little wobbly). Baby must have lost the tongue thrust reflex, meaning they no longer automatically push food out of their mouth with their tongue. And baby should be showing some interest in eating.
If your baby was premature, you may want to wait even longer- be sure to discuss this with your pediatrician.
But in general, there is nothing magical about the half birthday. This is just the approximate age that most babies are ready. So if you’re a week or two before this, or a few weeks, after AND your baby shows signs of readiness, then you’re probably ready to start.
Mistake #2: Giving Up On Foods Too Quickly
Did you know that a baby spitting out a food doesn’t mean they don’t like it? Making faces also doesn’t mean that they don’t like it! So counterintuitive, I know.
If they are spitting out EVERYTHING you give them, they may not be ready for solids quite yet. If it’s only happening sometimes, it’s likely that they’re just getting acquired to the new taste. It can take time for them to accept a food. Like, 10-15 times of trying it! So even if it seems that they might not like it, it is important to keep offering a wide variety of foods. The more exposures they get early on, the more likely they are to continue liking those foods as they get older.
Mistake #3: Only Giving Baby Foods
There is a whole aisle in the grocery store with baby food, so it makes sense to think that is what they should eat. But babies are capable of eating more than just pouches or jarred purées. Babies can eat food you’re eating too, just without added sugar or salt. (And remember, no honey under 1 year old.)
For example, right at 6 months, they can eat things like avocado slices, gnaw on bananas, or roasted sweet potato spears. Spoon feeding is fine, but they should also explore feeding themselves too.
Top Products to Start Feeding Baby With
The Little Birdies Feeding Bundle is the only purchase you need to make to get started feeding baby confidently. It includes products I hand selected. They are among my top choices as a Registered Dietitian and baby feeding expert. Here’s what I love and why!
Bumkins Long Sleeve Bib: It's tempting to only feed foods that aren't messy, but making a mess is an important part of the learning and sensory development process. These long sleeve bibs can't be beat for messy meals. Baby's top and arms will stay completely clean, leaving you with no stains to agonize over.
EZPZ Tiny Cup: Baby is ready for their first party trick- the idea of a 6 month old drinking out of an open cup makes people's jaws drop. But learning to drink out of an open cup is an important developmental milestone, and the Tiny Cup helps baby transition from bottle to cup. I love the tiny size of this cup and the soft silicone design so that it's no big deal when they throw their cup of water on the floor! You'll start by holding the cup up to baby's lips and slowly tipping water to their mouth. As they practice more, they will learn to hold the cup all by themselves.
EZPZ Tiny Spoons: An amazing first choice spoon for baby that is designed specifically to encourage self feeding from the start. Gone are the days of airplaning the spoon into baby's mouth. The most current research shows us that baby can and should control the food going into their own mouth. You can help by loading the spoon up, and then let baby take it from there!
Bumkins Chewtensils: Baby's second spoon, and first fork! I love that these are made from food-safe silicone instead of plastic. The rounded handle makes it easy for baby to hold, and the choke guard provides added safety to protect against choking.
Bella Tunno Suction Bowl and Plate: Babies are notorious for chucking things off their high chair...this suction bowl and plate make it a lot harder to do that! These are microwave safe for easy heating, and made from food grade silicone, making these dishes both practical and as safe as possible for baby. Suctioned is 100% the way to go for dishes.
Bella Tunno Silicone Bib: Mealtime accessories need to be both cute and functional. I love these silicone bibs because they wipe down so easily in the sink. A million times easier than washing food messes out of cotton bibs in the laundry every day!
Starting Solids – The Bottom Line
These are just some tips to help guide you if you will be starting solids soon. Do NOT feel bad if you think you made one of these mistakes with your baby. You know your baby better than I do! Even as a dietitian myself, there are some things I wish I did differently with my own babies when starting solids. We are always learning, there is always new research, and there is no ONE right way to do things. And remember this is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult with your pediatrician if you have questions about your baby.
About Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, LD: Kacie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Dallas, TX. She helps moms feed their babies and toddlers every day on Instagram and on her blog. Make sure to follow her on IG! She is a mom of two, and because #mommingainteasy, her mission is to make nutrition for your littles as easy and stress-free as possible.