Over the next few months, I want to share with you some insights and ideas about how to transition our babies from breast or formula feeding to purees and finger food. Each baby is ready to start their journey at different times. In my case, my daughter wasn't exhibiting cues that she was ready for solids until she was 7 months, but I know from the many moms I've spoken to it can happen anywhere from 4 months to 8 months and even later.
To start with, introducing food is one of the most beautiful, meaningful and empowering experiences you can have with your child. The investment you make in their infancy will pay dividends as they grow and develop into well-rounded adults. Most pediatricians and nutritionists agree that lifelong eating habits are created in the first few years of a baby's life. Therefore, introducing a variety of healthy and adventurous tastes and textures will encourage a more confident foodie later in life.
The most important issue for new parents is to think about how to make food a positive experience for your baby. That can mean being circumspect about food that you don't like. For example, if you really don't like broccoli, don't assume that your baby will also be ambivalent about it. Try and remain neutral, and let your baby find its own way with healthy foods.
It helps to know what motivates a baby to transition from the breast or formula to solids. The fact is, curiosity rather than hunger is the dominant driver. To help your baby with that journey, it's important for them to explore the sensory experience through taste, texture, bright colors and smell. Under one year of age, a baby is the most open to trying new foods and flavors than at any other time in their life.
It's also important to remember that cultural differences play into what we feed our children, In the US, we are encouraged to feed our babies single ingredients, for example, pureed carrots for a few days before introducing the next ingredient. But in other parts of the world, Asia for example, babies are given a variety of ingredients at the one time, including staple herbs and spices.
I am a firm believer in social integration when it comes to food. As soon as you introduce your baby to solid foods, you should try and arrange meal times to coincide with the family's time to eat. Where possible, try to incorporate some of the foods that the family is eating as well.
Remember, introducing your baby to solid foods is not, as one commentator said, "a risky scientific experiment, it is straightforward, natural and part of the culinary journey for everyone."
By Talia Moore, Founder of Tummy Thyme