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Baby’s First Solid Food

Baby's First Solid FoodI didn’t want to do it. I really wanted to hold out until 6 months to introduce solid foods. Breast milk has all the nutrients she needs right now, and she’s growing up fast enough as it is. Why rush things?

But after sleeping five to seven hour stretches for weeks, Ashley woke up hungry every two hours for two nights straight. I may have let it go on longer, feeling her every two hours and letting her sleep with us, if I didn’t have to work during the day. But there I was, not quite desperate for a full night’s sleep but knowing I couldn’t do this for much longer. I called the pediatrician.

The doctor said there’s a slim chance she teething, but it’s more likely she’s just ready for solid foods. In the past week, Ashley has become much more active—kicking at her toys in her baby gym, wiggling every time I put her down. She’s constantly in motion so I’m sure she’s burning calories like mad. She may be blessed with her father’s metabolism, which would be any female’s dream — lucky kid!

So on Saturday, we placed her in her high chair, snapped on her Winnie-the-Pooh bib and gave Ashley her first taste of cereal. I selected Gerber Organic Oatmeal, as the doctor said rice cereal or baby oatmeal were fine. I eat oatmeal about three times a week for breakfast so I figured the flavor would be “familiar” to her. I’ve read that babies pick up the taste of foods Mom eats in breast milk and during pregnancy.

She ate two mouthfuls and didn’t seem thrilled, mushing it around in her mouth and opening and closing her lips together, a little frown on her face. But I’m optimistic. She’s very young – not even four months yet—so I didn’t think she would accept any solid food at all the first time. If your baby rejects the first solid food, you should wait a week before you try again. But I interpreted two tastes as just short of overt rejection.

I tried again that night – another two mouthfuls. The next evening at dinner, though, she took four tastes, and even licked her lips. She still hasn’t smiled though, and I don’t think she likes the taste of the formula I use to water down the cereal. I never got the hang of pumping breastmilk, unfortunately.

The author of Super Baby Food, which I’m using as a feeding guideline for the first two years, says you don’t have to start a baby on cereal. Another food, watered down to a thin, milky consistency, is just as good. So I may try sweet potatoes next weekend.

Helpful tips for offering solid foods for the first time:

  • Iron-fortified cereal is recommended as a first food because allergies to it are extremely rare. My pediatrician said she’d never heard of a case.
  • Introduce a new food at breakfast, so if an allergic reaction occurs, it’s less likely to happen in the middle of the night.
  • Wait 3 – 5 days before offering a different food, again, to test for allergic reactions.
  • Smile and act upbeat when you give your baby food for the first time. She will pick up on your enthusiasm.
  • Food can be served room temperature or lukewarm, the same temperature you would serve formula.
  • I put the food in a baby bottle and used the bottle warmer to heat it. If you microwave food, stir carefully to avoid any “hot spots.” Microwave heating is not recommended except in a pinch.
  • Don’t expect your baby to love it the first time. She may make faces. Go slowly to give her a chance to absorb this new experience.
  • If baby turns her head or closes her mouth, stop. She may need to be burped and then you can try again. But if she refuses food twice, pack it up for that meal.
  • Don’t forget to take lots of pictures of baby’s first meal!

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