By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
You’ve gotten past sore nipples, cluster feedings, and have even actually started to enjoy breastfeeding. And now you have a ton of questions again because it’s time to introduce solids! On this blog post, we will cover common concerns that come up when introducing food for the first time. Read on to get the whole messy but fun stage of starting solids covered, so you can feel confident again and enjoy this next milestone with your baby.
Is my baby ready for solids?
According to the experts, solids should be introduced when the baby is 6 months of age as this is when their digestive system is more mature to handle food. Signs of readiness include: sitting up unassisted, has good head control and opens up their mouth or leans forward when food is offered. Usually, these milestones start happening at around 6 months but it’s also normal for baby to experience these milestones later on too! So if your baby is not meeting these guidelines quite yet no worries! You can always talk to your pediatrician for peace of mind. And always remember the primary form of nutrition should still be coming from breast milk for a baby less than one year old.
What are the best first foods for my baby?
Skip the cereal! In the past, cereal might have been known as a good first food but the newer school of thought says otherwise. Rice cereals have been documented to have high levels of arsenic and the early introduction of simple carbohydrates can actually increase baby’s chance of obesity. Beginning foods that are naturally nutrient rich like mashed up beans, ripe pieces of avocados, pears or apples. And yes, even meat like chicken or ground beef (that are fully cooked and soft to eat) makes a good first food for baby. Just make sure the pieces are small and tender. Baby should always be given breast milk first before food. Some moms like to start giving a little water in a sippy cup after meals at this stage too!
How often should I be pumping?
Are you pumping and nursing? Are you exclusively pumping? These factors can influence how often you should be pumping at this stage. You never ever want to stop pumping cold turkey. This can cause engorgement, clogged ducts, and even Mastitis. If your baby is sleeping through the night you can start weaning from the night time pumping session if you haven’t already. Remember baby’s primary nutrition should still be breast milk so it’s important to continue to pump when baby receives a bottle whether you’re exclusively pumping or pumping when you are away from your baby. At this stage, baby’s will still intake about 25-30 ounces per day and that amount will gradually decrease as solids become more of a nutrition source. At baby’s first birthday, he or she will be intaking more between 20-25 ounces. Continue to incorporate pumping sessions to keep providing enough breast milk to your baby’s nutritional needs. Our bodies are pretty amazing and will adjust easily to any new routine! Pumping at this stage can look different for every breastfeeding mom. Some moms will be able to pump enough only with 4 pumping sessions per day while others will need to continue to pump 6-8 times per day. It all really depends on your personal breastfeeding and how much milk you would like to have on reserve.
These guidelines are simply estimates to use as a gauge for healthy growing infants. Consult with your baby’s pediatrician to ensure baby is receiving the required nutritional content needed to grow and thrive developmentally. In the end, food before ONE is just for fun! It’s a time for baby to explore the color, taste, and textures of different foods. Eat with your baby and enjoy a meal together. This will help establish healthy eating patterns that will last a lifetime. Congratulations on this new milestone! At Spectra Baby USA, we are always here to answer your questions and provide support. Schedule a consultation with one of lactation consultants here. You got this!