The first year of motherhood can be tricky, especially when it comes time to start introducing solids to your baby. Learn how one easy mindset change can set you up for success and help shape your little one into a healthy, confident eater.
With all of the parenting resources, styles and strategies out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it’s time to start introducing solids to your baby. Being the career foodie that I am, I’ve done my fair share of reading up on the topic and, while there are positive aspects to many different styles of feeding babes, I’ve found one small change of mindset that works with every single one of them. Are you ready to be let in on this little secret??
Don’t worry, I’ll tell you soon! But first I want to give you some context. You see, it’s not really a secret. In fact, it’s something that’s talked about in depth in the book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [affiliate link], but it’s something that every mother needs to remember, no matter what feeding method you choose to follow.
There’s a general pattern all babies follow when first starting out on their solid foods journey:
PHASE 1 OF INTRODUCING SOLIDS
First, and perhaps scariest for the parents, is the introduction of baby’s first foods. At this point there are tons of questions running through you head like, “What will they think?”, “Will they swallow it all or just spit it out?”, “Will they choke?” and “What if they have an allergy?” These are all normal questions to have. In fact, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have them. Have no fear, though, these questions and fears will likely disperse within the first few weeks or so and then be replaced by the next phase of questions.
PHASE 2 OF INTRODUCING SOLIDS
“Now my baby’s eating, are they eating enough??”, “Are they getting plenty of variety?”, “Are they getting all the nutrients they need?”, “Is there more I should be introducing them to?” It’s at this point, my friends, that my little mindset change is going to come into play and hopefully ease your mind.
The mindset change you need to make (and thing you need to remember) when introducing solids to your baby is this:
Rather than worry about how much your child is eating, focus on the variety of foods you’re introducing and letting him or her fully explore these foods.
Breastmilk and/or formula are intended to be a baby’s primary source of nutrition for his or her first year of life. Everything else is “extra”.
SOLIDS ARE THE CHERRY ON TOP OF THE BABY NUTRITION SUNDAE
That’s right, think of whatever solid food your baby eats in his or her first year of life as an added bonus, as a cherry on top of the baby nutrition sundae. Think of it as an opportunity for him or her to get used to all of the yummy flavors and textures that make up the world of solid food, and not as a “necessity”.
Now, that doesn’t give you permission to just feed your little one anything. If you want to set your child up for nutritional success later in life, the time to start is now. Introduce healthy whole foods prepared in a way that’s safe for them at whatever stage they happen to be at. Don’t shy away from herbs and spices, or anything you’ve been raised to think is not “kid-friendly”.
It’s largely up to society to decide which types of food are kid-friendly or not, and if you ask me, we do a pretty lousy job at it. I find this to be particularly true in the United States where kids’ menus regularly consist of foods that are completely devoid of any nutritional value. Who said kids can’t enjoy Indian food or fresh seafood or heck, a vegetable?? These foods are all completely safe for them (as long as there are no allergies), but society has shaped us to believe that the kids probably won’t like it, so there’s no point in trying.
I’ve mentioned it before, but a child’s brain fires more synapses in his or her first three years than it does for the rest of his or her life, so why not take advantage of it and introduce as many foods as you can in these first few years? In fact, many fans of baby-led weaning follow the popular “100 by 1” principle, which involves introducing your child to 100 different foods by the time they turn one year old. I highly recommend giving it a shot!
But I digress. The most important thing I want for you to remember is this: Everything your child consumes besides breastmilk or formula in his or her first year of life should be viewed as an exploration exercise. Stop focusing on how much of it is actually making it into their little tummies, and instead focus on just how many flavors and textures you can expose them to while their brains are developing at this incredibly fast rate. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for what types of foods to introduce before age one, be sure to check out my posts on the Best First Foods for Baby-Led Weaning and my Top 5 Favorite Foods for babies at 6 months, 8 months, 9 months and 10 months of age.
As always, drop me a line if you have any questions, and happy feeding!