Friday, January 27, 2017

Preparing for Baby: Starting Solids

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of baby's life. My son did not start solids until six months and he wasn't ready to start before that. But...some babies are ready to start solids before six months. If your baby is sitting up well and trying to eat off your plate, chances are that they are ready to start solid foods. You can always ask your pediatrician's opinion on your baby's readiness. Here is also a nice article: Is Your Baby Ready for Solid Foods?

There is a vast array of commercially produced baby foods which can be found in pouches, glass jars, and plastic containers. You also have the option of making your own baby food. My posts about baby food, including a quick intro to making your own food, are HERE. I didn't take many pictures when I was making food for my first son, so I hope to expand on this topic when I start making food for baby #2.

Baby Led Weaning (which is all over the internet!) is quite the current rage. If it's a new topic to you, have a look at this Great Overview of the Topic from one of my favorite sites. I read about and was not interested in the Baby Led Weaning approach. My son was not ready for finger foods at 6 months. I added in finger foods over the following months as he became more ready and more proficient at feeding himself. I can't imagine him feeding himself barley and kale or ground lamb, potatoes, and carrots. I liked the variety I was able to provide with my homemade purees. Since I made my own baby food, I had full control over the consistency of the purees. My son ate very thick and chunky pureed foods. On the few occasions (usually out of town travel) that I used commercially produced pouch food, I was always shocked by how thin and runny it also tended to constipate him horribly! I always used a spoon, he never squeezed pouches into his own mouth. He's been competently feeding himself finger foods since around nine months and he chews great!

Useful Items for Starting Solids:

Infant Spoons. Infant spoons are properly sized for feeding baby. Adult or even toddler spoons are too large. I like these Munchkin Soft Tip Infant Spoons. If you want to go high tech there are more expensive varieties which change color to indicate if the food is too hot. My set of 6 spoons should be more than sufficient to get me through baby #2, but I think if I were purchasing a new item I might consider something like these Silicone Spoons instead!

Baby Bowls. I confess, I was lazy until my son was around 15 months and usually just put my son's finger foods on his high chair tray...even meatballs with red sauce and noodles! Yep, it made a mess but I just washed the tray afterwards. Now I use these Suction Bowls. They stick pretty well to his tray. He can pull them off if he is very motivated. Suction bowls are great for utensil practice because they give a rim for baby to scoop up against when trying to get food onto a spoon. Snack Bowls can be useful for baby to fish out their own cereal puffs. I always just used a 4 oz glass jar with a lid to take snacks, but I've seen other babies using these reach-in bowls. Upon first seeing one, my son picked up his friend's bowl, pulled the top open, and then dumped out all the puffs so I decided it wasn't the product for him.
Mom, I think the Avent Trainer works better upside down...

Sippy Cup. Hand in hand with starting solids, you want to soon start to offer sips of breast milk, formula, or water from a cup. (No cow's milk or non-dairy milk until after 1 year of age!) I didn't start the cup until around seven months. I tried both the Munchkin Transition Cup and the Philips Avent Natural Trainer. These both have silicone spouts but the Munchkin has two small valves in the spout while the Avent has a slit. I'm sure many exclusive breast-feeding babies are successful with these cups! But my son just couldn't get it. In order to drink you have to bite down on the silicone spout and suck, similar to bottle feeding but very different from breast feeding. He mostly just chewed on the silicone spouts. 

Evenflo Titly Cup
Here is Sippy Cup Advice from the American Dental Association who do not recommend cups with valves in which baby has to suck versus sip. After a lot of searching, I had great success with the Evenflo Tilty Cup which has a hard spout with two holes that will free flow if turned upside down. There is a removable valve with 3 flow options and a block option for travel which I took out and never used. The handles made these cups very easy for my son to use and he never chewed on the hard spouts. Of course, if he turns it upside down or pitches it to the floor, it does spill. He still uses these cups for his milk, but we are working on transitioning to an open cup. So far, we like these Baby Bjorn Baby Cups for open cup practice. 

Travel Cup. I liked the Stainless Steel Kid Kanteen with the hard green sippy top spout. This also came with an internal valve, which neither my son nor I could get anything out of the spout with it in place, so I removed it. My son "graduated" to the Stainless Steel Thermos Straw Bottle once he was using a straw at around 14 months. I tried to teach him to use a straw at around 10 months for a week or two. When I introduced it again around 14 months, he took to it right away with no instruction. Babies will drink from straws at different ages, straw cups are typically rated for 18+ months of age. We used the short straws from these Take and Toss Straw Cups for practice. The big concern with all straw bottles is their propensity to grow mold. I like the Thermos bottles because they can be completely unassembled and there are no hidden parts you cannot see or wash. 

Thermos Straw Bottle

Feeding Bibs. You can just designate some bibs specifically for feeding, as they will get much dirtier than a teething/drool bib. Or you can buy specific feeding bibs. I have four of these Carters Feeding Bibs which are larger than their regular bibs. I used them exclusively for around a year but then purchased a five-pack of these Wipe-Off Green Sprouts Bibs. These are nice, I just clean them when I do the dishes and hang them upside down to dry. There are sturdier silicone options as well.

Unimpressed with the organic teething biscuit.

High Chair. For initial feedings, a small seat like the traditional Bumbo which has a tray option can be nice. Unfortunately, my son's thighs were too thick for our Bumbo, but we really liked this Boppy Baby Chair which was also great for trips or eating at friend's houses. 

We do primarily use a full-size high chair. We received a hand me down Peg Perego Prima Pappa Diner. I don't recommend the product for several reasons: it is full of little crevices where food gets stuck and is difficult to clean, the seat is too low for the tray - at 18 months my son is still sitting on a folded towel to raise him up, and the seat cushion feels like pleather and that pleather is currently peeling off in little flakes. My mother has sewn a cloth cover for us which has improved functionality some. Nice features include a double tray so the top pops off for easy washing and a reclining seat. At $200, there are a lot of cheaper seats on the market for consideration! Some seats transform fully into a booster for years of future use. If you are buying a new seat, I would definitely consider something multipurpose!

Peg Perego high chair with homemade cover and Carters feeding bib.

High Chair Cover. These typically do double duty as shopping cart seat covers. We like this Infantino Cover which I just throw in the wash after use, but there are a lot of similar items on the market.

Out for lunch! It was Game of Thrones premiere Sunday, so we're wearing our GoT shirts.

Happy Feeding! If I missed a crucial item, please let me know!

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