My child is 20 weeks old today. Which means it's been 20 weeks since my last solid meal, 8-hour stretch of sleep, and uninterrupted shower.
While there is no right time to introduce solids to your wee one, most babies show interest between 4 and 6 months when their digestive systems are developed enough and ready for a trial run. You'll know it's time to give it a go when they start reaching for your dinner plate and are able to open their mouths wide on their own.
Before you run to the grocery store and make a beeline for the baby food section, remember that there is no such thing as "baby food." While jars and pouches of perfectly pureed vegetables are certainly convenient, they are also costly and often contain unnecessary sugars and additives.
Take advantage of this window of opportunity when your kiddo is at an exciting stage of their nutritional development. They are confident and curious, ready to put almost anything into their mouths (even rocks and grass, as you may have noticed!). Rather than offering packaged baby foods, rice cereals, or jarred purees, aim to start them on foods that come from your own kitchen. They'll benefit from the fresh flavors, textures, sights and smells while developing a more mature palate. Show them that a banana is something you peel, slice, and bite -- not something that comes pre-mashed in a jar from the store!
Easy foods you can mash and serve up to your little nomster:
- Cooked peas, carrots, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes
- Peaches, pears, apricots (if fresh and in-season to avoid the sugary canned kind)
- Whole grain rice or oatmeal
Pro Hack: Start slooow! And if this is baby's very first bite, consider mixing any of these soft, textured foods with some breastmilk or formula to avoid a major (and unfamiliar) flavor blast for your foodie.
Super Pro Hack: Want another reason to relax? Generally, babies will let you know when they're hungry and forcing or begging them to finish their plate of (mashed up) food can actually backfire. You don't need to pretend their spoon is an airplane, and you don't have to eat a bite of their mashed sweet potato to prove that it tastes good (Phew, right?!). You want your little eater to enjoy mealtimes with limited pressure, so trust their gut just as much as you trust your own!