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Meagan lives in St. Joseph, MI with her husband Jon and kids Clara, Owen, William, Isaac, and Jacob; who range in age from four to fifteen. Meagan celebrates the art of sane + satisfying family life at her blog The Happiest Home, and shares her ideas on being a happier mom in her book The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood, both of which have been hailed as down-to-earth, funny, wise, and helpful.

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Easy, Baby: 5 ways to take the stress out of starting solids

By Meagan Francis |

A big thanks to YoBaby for sponsoring this series of posts about babies and healthy eating.  CLICK HERE for more of this discussion.

I remember being a new mom and waiting eagerly for a very important milestone: the day I could feed my first baby solids. In those days, the recommended age for starting solids was 4 – 6 months, and many parents started much earlier. I thought I was being really patient by waiting until Jacob was six months old before I mixed up his first bowl of rice cereal and broke out the spoon.

It didn’t go so swimmingly. He gagged, turned his head away, and smeared the grainy mush all over his face and the high chair, where it promptly turned to a gluelike substance. I tried a few more times, but it became obvious that he just wasn’t interested. I worried. Would he get enough iron from breastmilk? Wasn’t there some … reason he should be eating solids regularly by now?

When my second came along, I decided to take a much more laid-back approach, and waited until Isaac was grabbing at my plate before I started solids. And this time, I just fed him a squished-up version of what everyone else in the family was eating. I treated his introduction to solids as a grand adventure instead of a nutritional minefield … and as a result, we all enjoyed the process a lot more. (Plus, he ate a much more impressive variety of fresh, homemade foods.)

If you’re stressing over starting your baby on solids, learn from my mistakes and follow the rules I’ve learned along the way:

1. Wait ’til she’s ready

I know it’s so tempting to break out the rice cereal the moment your baby can hold her head up for a few seconds at a time. But young babies are really meant to grow mostly on breastmilk or formula, and introducing solids too early is unnecessary and can lead to upset little tummies (not to mention additional hassle and mess to clean up). Plus, the earlier you start, the more you’ll stress about making sure she’s still getting enough milk and the right blend of nutrients. Waiting until at least six months — the age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics — makes starting solids much easier.

2. Make it a family affair

I always found it easiest to feed our babies alongside the rest of us at the table. Dinner is generally the most social and relaxed meal of the day, and the one your baby will be most eager to participate in. Sure, it might mean that your attention is divided during your meal, but that’s parenthood for you!

3. Keep prep simple

Look at what you’re serving the big people in your house: Is there something you can easily puree, smash, or dice up, depending on your baby’s age and level of readiness? Unless you have a strong family history of food allergies, you probably don’t need to worry too much about introducing foods in a certain order or avoid spices and seasonings. It’s a myth that all babies need to start with specific bland foods. That theory is not supported by science.

4. Do what works

Don’t worry about making every meal the “perfect” experience. Let baby eat with his fingers or squish his peas with a spoon. Can’t find a clean bib? Make dinner the last activity before bathtime, and toss baby’s shirt right into the wash. Or let him go shirtless at dinner. You’ve got plenty of time ahead to teach table etiquette, and I promise, Miss Manners is not watching.

5. Relax and have fun

You’re setting the table for a lifetime of family meals together. Learn to enjoy this time! Linger at the table, talk about your day and include your baby in the conversation (even if she can’t talk just yet). Eating together should be fun and as low-stress as you can manage — and that’s true for feeding your baby, too.

How do you keep feeding your baby fun and low-stress?

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About Meagan Francis


Meagan Francis

Meagan Francis is a mom of five who loves everyday adventures and is in pursuit of a big life with her big family. Her love of family, food, home and travel fuel her writing here and on her blogs The Happiest Home and The Kitchen Hour.
Read bio and latest posts → Read Meagan's latest posts →

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One thought on “Easy, Baby: 5 ways to take the stress out of starting solids

  1. Sarah @ Powers of Mine says:

    Love these suggestions – I agree that it can be stressful but doesn’t need to be. I would add that, in my experience, teaching babies to enjoy self-feeding and finger foods as soon as possible is another stress-reliever. I know some babies still being exclusively spoon-fed as late as a year old! Self-feeding is fun for them, good for fine motor development, and allows mama to free up her hands to deal with other mealtime stuff (like, um, maybe shoving a bit of food into her own mouth?). Maybe it’s because both my kids have preferred to feed themselves over being spoon fed, but as soon as they can pick up little (safe) bits of food, I pretty much let them feed themselves. :) Thanks Meagan! Great post!

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