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When To Start Your Baby On Solids

Sleeping newborn babyKnowing when to transition to solids can be very confusing for some parents, especially if their baby is waking in the night. I have often heard well-meaning people tell frustrated parents things like, “oh, just put a little rice cereal in the bottle, and she’ll sleep all night!” But feeding your baby solids before she’s ready can actually lead to food allergies or chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease.

For the first few months of life, your baby is truly waking for food. His little stomach just can’t hold much, so he will wake to eat every few hours. However, many parents continue to blame hunger for poor sleep habits after their babies reach the three-month mark and think they need to supplement with solid food.  It can be tempting to listen to this advice, and many a desperate parent has poured some rice cereal into their three-month-old’s bedtime bottle. But the truth is, it won’t help your baby sleep through the night, and the dangers of feeding babies solids too early far outweigh any benefit in terms of sleeping.

Experts agree the ideal time to start a baby on solids is between 5 and 6 months of age.  Waiting much longer than 6 months could lead to some texture rejection. There are some signs to watch for that can help you determine if your baby is ready:

  1. She can sit up (with support) and can hold her head and neck up well.
  2. Her birth weight has doubled.
  3. She’s interested in what you’re eating and may try to grab food from your plate.
  4. She can keep food in her mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
  5. She shows signs of still being hungry by reaching out for more when her bottle is empty or she stops nursing.

Most babies’ digestive systems are not able to handle grains and cereal (especially wheat) until at least one year old at the earliest. Rice cereal, the most popular first food, is actually high glycemic, which creates spikes in blood sugar. Health Canada, as well as the Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada recently issued new guidelines for transitioning a baby to solid food using veggies and meat instead of grains.

Some other ideal first foods are pureed fruits and vegetables including carrots, pears, prunes, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, peaches. Baby foods can be store-bought or easily made at home by simply boiling or steaming and then pureeing.

It’s always a wonderful milestone when babies start to eat solid food. As parents, it’s our job to make sure they’re ready for it. Bon Appetit!

foodsense (1)If you’re the parent of an older child and concerned about their eating habits, have a look at The Food Sense Program. Developed with the help of a child nutritionist, it contains practical, step-by-step solutions for common childhood food challenges.

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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