This is one of the most popular questions I get asked from new parents working with me on introducing solids into their baby’s diet. Most parents type A the sh*! out of introducing solids and want a fully detailed answer complete with daily recommendations for ounces of milk and tbsp. of solid food consumed. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no such quick answer.
While this may seem frustrating in the beginning, over time I think it allows parents to stress less about meal time and start forming healthy family eating habits. So bear with me here, put down the measuring spoons and let me walk you through my process.
A whopping 54% of parents in Canada report being “very confused” about starting solids….and I can see why! You get information from your doctor, your best friend, your mom, the internet…it is information overload and what’s more much of this info will be conflicting and a lot of it outdated, inaccurate or even dangerous.
I work with families to help ease this stress and confusion and also allow them to start trusting their own instincts. We sometimes forget this but WE as parents are the experts in our baby. Yes- information and research are helpful but at the end of the day whatever you do has to feel right for you and your family.
So back to the amount of food question. First off, every baby is different, in every way (sleep, socializing, attachment…and of course what and how much they eat).
We need to learn to respect a baby’s physiological cues that tell us when they are hungry (we are better at this one) and ALSO when they are full. Signs of fullness could include:
-pushing food/spoon away
-spitting food out
-turning head away
-leaning back in high chair
As parents we can introduce solids by offering a variety of healthy texture appropriate foods and start slowly with one feeding/day gradually working up to 3-4 feeding sessions/day.
Choose times when baby is happiest/most alert so feeding time can be enjoyable and chances of baby accepting food will be higher.
If baby still leans forward/opens mouth for more food then offer more. For the first year your baby will still get the majority of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula, so solid food is a complement nutritionally and is also important in developing fine motor and oral feeding skills.
Many parents want baby to finish what they have served for them (they grew up in the clean your plate club!) They keep trying to get baby to eat more even when they are giving all the signs they are full. It’s not surprising since many adults I work with in my practice have been suppressing and ignoring their own physiological cues for YEARS. Denying hunger through chronic dieting practices or eating to the point of being overfull. We have lost touch with these strong body cues. Developing a healthy relationship with food starts as a baby, so let’s respect our baby’s innate body wisdom and realize that unless they have a medical condition which prevents them from self regulating their intake, they will know how much to eat and what is appropriate for them.
Some babies will take in more liquid milk (breastmilk/formula) from 6-12 months while others will dive into food ecstatically and may be eating large amounts of solid foods. Don’t compare your baby to other babies! Many factors affect how much solid food they take in, such as- how much milk they drink, if they are sick, if they are experiencing a growth spurt and what their activity level and sleep are like. Also, if baby is growing and thriving, having wet and dirty diapers and has no mood or developmental issues then it is safe to say they are getting enough food. So let’s have fun at mealtimes, relax and let your baby guide the way.
Have more specific questions about your (or your baby’s) nutrition? Feel free to book a free 20 minute call with me to chat more, or if you want more information on if your baby is ready to start solids, which foods to feed first , allergies, supplements and and so many other things then check out my new online program, Feeding Baby, an introducing solids workshop.