Starting Solids: How to Start Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods

baby with confused look being spoon-fed

This is the eighth installment in our series on reducing your baby's allergy risk. Jump back to the During Pregnancy, First 24 Hours, or Only Breastfeeding installments if you missed them. 

This lesson will help you introduce solid foods into your baby's diet, or find a compromise that works for you.

There’s a raging debate today over whether to start feeding babies solids with purees, or by letting them eat safe chunks of food. The second method is called baby-led weaning. In both cases, babies should continue getting most of their calories from breastmilk or formula until age 1.

A lot of moms like the idea of baby-led weaning because you get to wait longer to start food and you don’t have to do the prep of blenders, ice-cube trays, and the expensive pouches. And these advocates have a point — blenders didn’t exist until 1922, so clearly moms were doing something else before Gerber came along with beef vegetable soup and strained peas. 

We propose a compromise. Bird Feeding.

 

bird regurgitating food and bird at feeder

Important note: Before you start feeding your baby anything besides breastmilk or formula, make sure your baby is ready for solids. That means:

  • Your baby is at least 4 months old
  • Your baby can hold their head up, and has good neck control
  • Your baby seems interested in your food

How Bird Feeding works: 

  1. Take a medium sized bite of pretty much anything you are eating. Start with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains before adding in allergenic foods and meats, and avoid foods with added salt, added sugar, or very spicy foods. Any flavor spices are great.
  2. Chew your bite of food well. The rule of thumb is 20-26 chews per bite.
  3. Instead of swallowing your food, push a small bit out onto your finger or onto a baby spoon
  4. If using your finger, swab the food into your baby’s cheek. If using a spoon, simply let your baby eat. 
  5. Repeat until you and your baby have finished your plate. 

Bird Feeding is great for a number of reasons

  • Your baby gets to eat what you eat
  • There is no additional preparation work
  • You will know if food is too hot or too cold
  • With each bite, you pass on helpful bacteria to help your baby digest the food
  • You get to eat together
  • Re-chewed food is what humans have done for most of history

The best thing about Bird Feeding (we are going to make fetch happen...) is that it promotes diet diversity right from the start. There is no basis for the “new food every 3 days” strategy, or to feed “one food at a time.” It is a waste of time and effort. There is good data that a wide variety of foods from the start protects against food allergies.


Note: As always, don’t share spit with your baby / kiss your baby / etc. if you are sick, have cold sores, or other open wounds in your mouth. 

 

Non-Sequitur On Eczema

Infant eczema is more common in months 4-6 than months 1-3. Are you watching out for eczema or other skin issues? Refer back to Month 1 on what to do, and refresh your memory of what you are looking for here.


 

Would you try Bird Feeding? Let us know in the comments below!