This topic seems to be very confusing to most moms because everywhere you turn people have their opinion on this subject, the opinions change from year to year, and new moms are terrified to have their babies choke. I am going to help you to navigate through 6 myths that will make introducing foods a whole lot more fun.
Myth #1: Babies should start solids at 4 months old.
Babies are not ready for solid foods at 4 months old. Period. Even if they have teeth at 4 months old. Babies should be able to sit up with their head upright solidly, pick food up between two fingers, move the food to their mouths, have an interest in eating food, and most likely have a tooth or two. This is usually closer to the 6th month mark, but can be a lot longer.
Myth #2: Babies first food should be rice cereal.
Rice cereal has no actual nutrient value. It may be fortified with iron but that is not an optimal source of iron. Breastmilk and formula are better options. Additionally, it is never recommended to put rice cereal in a bottle, it does not help babies to sleep longer.
Myth #3: You should only introduce one food at a time to monitor an allergic reaction.
This is old school thought. New Research now indicates introducing a few foods is okay and introducing common allergens between the ages of 6 and 9 months is optimal. If there is a reaction you can eliminate if needed. Starting with avocados, bananas, eggs, sweet potato, etc are fun first foods. Try to introduce foods that you are also eating. If you are having eggs for breakfast, then give some to your baby. If you are having sweet potato with dinner, have them eat with you too. Meals are just as much about social interaction as they are about nourishment. Encourage eating to happen as a family.
Myth #4: Babies should start with pureed food.
Pureed food is not a necessary food. This stage is just to help some babies get used to textures of food, but not a necessary step. If you wait to introduce foods you can simply skip this step all together. The primary food in the first year of life should be breastmilk or formula period. So before solid foods are introduced at every meal it should start with breastmilk or formula first since most of their nutritional and caloric intake come from these foods they need to come first. So a typical feeding for breakfast would be breastmilk or formula then maybe a small bowl of avocado or bananas. I know with my first baby I had time to make and freeze pureed food and did that with her. The last 3 kids we introduced solids much later and had fun eating as a family. It took the stress out of feeding times, etc. We enjoyed it.
Myth #5: Babies should start with vegetables so they don't love sweet foods first.
Breastmilk has an array of flavors with each feeding. No "meal" tastes the same. Breastfed babies are used to a variety of flavors. Formula babies not as much. But babies will enjoy certain foods more than others. Keep introducing foods 3-4 times before you give up on that food. Babies might need time to get used to a certain flavor. And it is really normal for a baby to gag on foods in the beginning while they are learning to transfer foods from the front of their mouth to the back and then to swallow.
Myth #6: All food should be cut up really small.
Handing your child something that is too big to choke on but able to pick up and hold to take bites out of it is much safer for your baby. Great examples is a whole banana vs cut up pieces. Some exceptions to this are grapes, and hotdogs (not a fan of hotdogs but they are a summer staple). Babies will learn to put appropriate sized bites in their mouths much faster. Again, babies might seem to choke or gag a little periodically, but they are learning to eat. It is a learned and practiced skill.
If you would like to learn more about natural baby led weaning I would recommend you check out:
Now have some fun! Have some conversations! Enjoy time as a family!
Dr. Felicia, DC, DICCP