Child health nurses, leaflets, the internet, magazines, books, blogs… I don’t know about you but sometimes I get a little confused by all the conflicting parenting advice that’s out there. When it comes to introducing solids there definitely are plenty of ‘rules’ and opinions to consider. As a mum of five I know all too well that the journey to starting solids is not always a straight forward one and that is OK. Every baby and every situation is different and therefore you may need to sway from the middle road a little to find a good ‘fit’ for you child.
If you are thinking of holding off on solids for a while it might be helpful to know that there are several common reasons to delay solid foods for your baby:
Immature Digestive System
Research has shown that it takes time for a baby’s digestive system to mature, therefore young babies may struggle to process (certain) foods resulting in upset tummies, gas, constipation etc. As our twins were born prematurely we took this medical advice on board and we kept their adjusted age in mind when deciding when to start solids. After the initial delay they quickly got the hang of it without any tummy trouble.
As you may remember our Sybil struggled with food from the moment we started her on solid foods, vomiting every 10-15 minutes day in day out. It became clear immediately that most foods did not agree with her very well and we held off on more solids until we were able to establish the offending foods. She was later diagnosed with a cow’s milk and soy allergy and for some time she was on a gluten free diet too.
If you are aware of any allergies or intolerance in your child (or even close family) please consult with a paediatrician and/or allergy specialist to put together a plan to safely introduce solids to your baby. When dealing with food allergies it is often easiest to cook meals from scratch so you know exactly what’s on your baby’s plate.
Having had several children with reflux problems and now also tongue tie I have seen that being able to swallow and properly move your tongue is very important when starting baby on solids. For some babies it is a case of learning as they go, for others some intervention may be needed via medication or surgery. After just one spoon full it was obvious our Harriet (now 12 months) was struggling so we visited our ENT for advice and had her tongue released shortly after. If you have any concerns about your baby’s ability to swallow or chew you may want to check with your doctor to make sure there are no serious issues that need treatment.
When introducing solids to babies you would usually start with a smooth puree consistency that is easy to swallow and does not require biting or chewing. As your baby gets older, becomes more experienced and gets (more) teeth you can move on to lumpier foods. If your child has oral development issues you may choose to stick with puree and mash a little longer, we did with our babies and they all got there in their own time.
In the end it is important to remember, every baby develops at his/her own pace and it’s OK to slow down on solids!