Starting Solids with SpoonfulONE

We are excited to introduce Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer of SpoonfulONE! Keep reading for a look into her tips for exploring solids with baby and first foods to try!

Feeding your baby is a spiritual, lovely experience…most of the time. There’s something magical about helping our babies feel sated (and also quite literally growing them). Yet the worry about choosing the perfect foods at the perfect time can loom over us. I’m here to help break down current infant guidelines and new recommendations to help kick-start your feeding journey so it’s smart and comfortable. We literally can help design our baby’s future with how and what they eat and leverage all the opportunities for health for your baby from the beginning.

Starting solids is a big and exciting step – when parents and baby show readiness to transition from breastfeeding or formula feeding – that’s when to start. The best and safest way to start introducing your baby to new foods starts sometime between 4 and 6 months. First feeds are a monumental step for both baby and parents – babies will show readiness with fine, gross and psychological milestones. Parents must be ready, too!

Here are a few signs that your baby must meet to begin to explore feeding on “solids:”

  • Able to sit up without support 
  • Able to maintain great head control when sitting 
  • Loss of the tongue-thrust reflex so they don’t automatically push food out of their mouth when offered and taken 
  • Follows foods with their eyes and shows eagerness and interest (sometimes babies even lick the air when they smell delicious food!)
  • Opens mouth wide when you offer food on a spoon

There are so many foods that can be great to start your baby on solids. You get to decide the first food – there is no one perfect first food so choose something you’d love to share with your baby first. 

In addition to considering your family’s food preferences here are a few first foods (in very, very small pieces or puree): 

  • Avocados 
  • Banana 
  • Soft cooked, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin 
  • Soft cooked apples 
  • Soft cooked carrots, green beans, zucchini, and beets 
  • Cereals that are thinned to a near-liquid consistency with expressed breast milk or formula 
  • Very ripe peaches and pears  
  • Peanut butter thinned with water and mixed into oatmeal 

In addition to readiness, timing plays a key role in infant feeding  – the earlier you get common allergens into the diet, the better. We know babies who eat foods from many different food groups every single day (as early as 6 months of age) are less likely to go on to develop all kinds of allergic conditions. Diet diversity is GOOD for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the USDA recommend starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age. You may be thinking that seems young, but in a complete reversal from decades of advice from pediatricians to avoid the foods associated with food allergies, research now says early and regular dietary exposure to a food — specifically a food often associated with allergies, like peanuts — helps reduce the risk of a child developing an allergy to that food.

If preparing 16 different foods feels overwhelming, there are solutions to help make it safe and convenient for parents. SpoonfulONE provides gentle daily exposure to 16 food allergens and is backed by multiple research studies. The goal is to introduce a new food every single day, and then keep offering a wide variety of foods each day to support your babies immune development and their exploration and joy in eating new textures, flavors, and consistencies.

There are few foods to avoid when introducing solids at 4 to 6 months of age:

  • Honey
    • Rare risk for causing botulism, a serious illness, if introduced in infancy. It’s safe after 1 year of age.
  • Cow’s milk
    • Stick with breast milk and formula as a primary liquid until your baby is 12 months-old.
    • Water is okay after 6 months of age when starting solids (2-4 oz servings with meals).
    • With the formula shortage, talk with your pediatrician if you need a replacement for a few days if formula is difficult to find.
  • Nuts, popcorn, whole grapes, and thick/dense nut butters as they are choking hazards so avoid or cut into tiny pieces or thin appropriately.

Your baby’s diet should be diverse and robust. I often say try to get 100 new foods into their diet in 100 days. Most parents do a great job getting in fruits and vegetables, but don’t forget things like meat & fish. We want babies to be able to experience all foods and flavors and textures without limitations. Feeding our babies can be a beautiful adventure but it’s one that I have found is also a serious reward to the soul. You can introduce foods to your baby with joy and confidence.

Feeding our children and nourishing them is one of the most soulful and spiritual things we get to do as parents. Yum!

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a mom to two boys, pediatrician, and the Chief Medical Officer at SpoonfulONE. She’s devoted her career to prevention efforts and works to educate parents and physicians on the importance of early and routine allergen feeding.

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