Starting Solids and Breastfeeding Resources and Advice

Updated on August 13, 2008
B.E. asks from New York, NY
14 answers

Hey All -
This is my first time writing a request. So I am preparing myself to read and learn all i can about starting solids. There seems to be a lot of information out there and I would love to know what has worked for you. I want to continue breastfeeding as well so would love to know your story of how you started solids. did anyone use Happy belly rice cereal? how much did you breastfeed in conjunction? what resources were helpful to you? did you make your own purees and if you did what appliance did you use
what books did you read? did you feed in the morning or what was the schedule like? any great recipes? and anything else you can think of to let me know regarding this.

thanks so much MOMS! I truly appreciate your response.

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answers from New York on

OOOOOOOO! This is such an exciting time! I started my little Elizabeth on solids about 5 to 6 months.

My first recommendation is to take things slowly. We started with a single grain, rice cereal, by Gerber. Depending on how organic you are, there may be other alternatives, but Gerber worked just fine for us.

The first meal I started her on was breakfast. It was literally a tablespoon of rice and like 3 or 4 tablespoons of BM. It was thinner then soup. She was always a great nurser so she was nursed when she woke up at 5/6am, then rice at her 9am then back to BM for her 12/3/6/9pm feedings. The second meal I introduced was the dinner (6pm) feeding. It was pretty much the same consistency. Followed by lunch after her late morning nap.

Make sure you pump for any meals you feed her solids for, especially in the beginning until you can adjust to the reduced schedule. Sometimes she would skip the solids and want to nurse instead. The pumped milk makes a great back-up in the freezer!

When she stopped slurping and tried more gumming, I slowly dried out the rice with more cereal. I always used BM though as the fluid to make the cereal.

After cereal, I introduced sweet potatoes. I was told it is a "neutral" food and not as sweet as fruits. The next was bananas then applesauce. Then we got adventurous and started mixing fruit with the cereal. One day I got a cute check-off card in the mail from Gerber that showed a "rainbow of foods". It said aiming to get a rainbow each day of foods would ensure a nutrious day. I used it more as a guide for what we experiemented with.

By 7 or 8 months, she was dropping her nursing sessions. This was also the time the doctor tried to put her on florinated vitamins (a topic for a whole different post - I tried to delay them as long as possible due to personal reasons), so I started introducing single meats to supplment for proteins. We started liking BeechNut for the fruits/veggies but only Gerber seemed to make stage 1/2 single meats. We also started using "Puffs" by Gerber but only the sweet potato and banana ones since I knew she had been exposed to those foods. These dissolve really easily and helped with the gumming action.

Somewhere along the line she got a taste for peas too and this was her first finger food since I could squish them a bit first and then she could pick them up herself. She was a very tactile eater, very early on.

My final advise is to follow her cues. If she turns her head away, she may not be ready. If she is taking some solids but doesn't show an interest in others, those may need several repeats. Eating is an acquired taste (pun intended). Not only is there a taste issue, but also a texture issue. You'll just "known" when to progress to the next food/stage. She will "ask" and your gut will tell you. I would also watch for changes in her diaper. Red, rashes, runniness, bit of undigested food these are all signs for allergies or possible a result of introducing something too soon.

My daughter nursed really well right through 1 years old and for several months was taking up to 24 ounces a day for my husband (8 with breakfast between cereal and a light bottle and 8 for each of her 2 naps) and nursing twice in the evening when I got home and then at bedtime despite the meals (or rather it was including meals). We introduced diluted juice and whole milk very late to her (after 1st bday). I have since stopped pumping and due to extended trips to my parents that have us apart, I think I am drying up, but she still comfort nurses when we are together.

Now my 14-month-old daughter reaches for everything I place in my own mouth. I have to be careful sometimes about things like ice cream and coffee! LOL. It has made me much more conscience about my own eating habits and which ones (preferably the good ones!) I am passing on.

Lots of luck. Feel free to email me anytime.

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answers from Albany on

My son is 6 1/2 months old and we started solids a few weeks ago. He is also exclusively breastfed, no bottles. I bought the happybellies and Earth's Best cereals. They are both good. My advice is to start slow, with only 1 meal per day and only maybe a tsp of dry cereal mixed with some pumped breastmilk. this should not replace any of the breastfeeding sessions. It should be in between meals, like a snack or dessert, and not start to decrease her total breastmilk intake until she gets to be around 9 months old. I think you start feeding 2 meals around 7-8 months and 3 meals around 9 months.
We put my son in my niece's high chair one day and found the size to be overwhelming for him at this point. He is just lost in it. Instead, I bought a Fisher-Price booster seat (the blue & green one, not the new red & yellow one- it's not as good). It securely attaches to a dining room chair and is a bit smaller than a high chair. It starts as a chair with a back and tray and after the child grows, you can remove the back and the tray and just pull them up to the table. Eventually we may just borrow my niece's old chair but for now, we are fine with the booster seat. We started putting him in the booster seat a few weeks before starting solids, while I ate breakfast or lunch and letting him play with toys on the tray or chew a teether. I also gave him a baby spoon to play with so he got the idea of putting it in his mouth. Around 5 months, you can even pump some milk (maybe 1/2 an oz) and spoon-feed it to your daughter to get her used to the idea. You introduce one food every 4 days or so, and if they show signs of being uninterested or bored, closing their mouth and turning away, you stop and take them out, even if they only try 1 bite. You want it to be a fun, positive experience. Don't force them to eat as this can interfere with them learning to feel full, and lead to overeating as children or adults. Good first foods include whole grain rice cereal, mashed bananas, pears, sweet potatoes or avocado. You can make them yourself easily or buy organic jarred, but since adults prefer fresh rather than canned, I'm sure babies do too.
The resources that I found most helpful were which is a great resource for breastfeeding and solids and other baby issues.
and a book called Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. She also has a website that includes excerpts from the book.
I also got The Family Nutrition Book by Dr. Sears

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answers from New York on

Hi B.,

There is a book called Super Baby Foods by Ruth Yaron and it contains everything you need to know about making your own baby food. All about what to feed and when (in terms of digestion and things like nitrates) and how to make it and freeze it. It was my bible. I especially loved the porridge recipie. So healthy and easy. My daughter is over 2 and still eats porridge made of steel cut slow cooked oats and bananas most days (she has developed a taste for waffles, too). I agree with holding off as long as possible to start solids and also see what your dr. suggests. Have fun!

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answers from New York on

Hi, B..

Someone recommended the Super Baby Foods book. It is such a great resource, especially if you are concerned about making sure your baby gets the most nutritious food possible. I started with avocado, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. My son is now 10 months old and loves his veggies. Especially if its off my plate. Its very easy to make your own purees and so much better to give your child fresh foods.

Good luck.

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answers from New York on

i also research things way ahead. since you have some time, and you seem happy with breastfeeding, i would suggest you google "baby led weaning" or "baby led solids". its the idea to delay solids until the baby can self feed and push the food to the back of its throat vs the baby swallowing baby food because we push it back with the spoon. its really something to look into.

also, since you exclusively breastfeed, look up the need for rice cereal. it has no nutritional value except the iron, however the iron is only absorbed at 4%. a healthy breastfed baby should not have any need for added iron. this also applies to iron supplements since once outside sources of iron are introduced, the body wont be able to digest as much iron from breastmilk. at 9 months you can have your baby's iron levels checked, but even if they were low, your baby should be getting all nutrition from breastmilk and foods, so they shouldnt need additives if you feed them well balanced meals. otherwise, there is no need for rice cereal, and it quite constipating. instead think about avocado or bananas.
you can find more info on this on lalecheleagues forum section as well as other parenting sites with starting solids threads. good luck.

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answers from New York on

i got many ideas from

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answers from Albany on

With my first son, I tried cereal around 4 1/2 months, but he really didn't get interested until about 6 1/2 months. At the time, I was breastfeeding him four or five times a day, and when it got so he was eating an entire serving of cereal, I moved that into one of the bf slots (mid-morning first, I think) and cut back on one bf/day. He also got snacks (Cheerios, graham crackers) in his high chair while we ate dinner at about that same age. (Again, once he showed an interest. He sat with us at the table from the beginning - first in his infant carrier, then in a high chair.) I bf him until he was 14 months old.
With number 2, he was interested in food from the get-go, and so he was eating cereal at 4 months (adjusted - he was 7 weeks early), and snacks when we ate dinner, etc. BUT, since he was a preemie, I kept up ALL the bf until he started with a cup (which was about 7 or 8 months). He was also a biter, though, so on his first birthday, I began weaning, and he was done bf by the time he was 13 months old.

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answers from New York on

Hi B.-- Your pediatrician should be a lot of help when the time comes. Make sure to ask lots of questions, and good for you for doing some research ahead of time.

Keep in mind that all babies are different. We can make all the plans in the world for them, but they're going to want (and NEED) different things at different times. Go with what your baby is telling you she needs and not what other people tell you you should be doing based on their children. You're the parent and you know what's best for your baby. :-)

That being said, here was my experience:
I exclusively breastfed my two boys for 5.5 months. We ended up falling into a very good schedule around 3 months of nursing every three hours during the day (give or take depending on what they needed) and I would set alarms to wake me up so I could wake them up to nurse at night (7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, 3am, 7am...). This ensured that everyone had a good night's sleep and that we got to go to bed pretty consistently every night. Even if they weren't "requesting" milk at three hours they were always VERY happy when it was offered and ate quite well (still do, actually...).

At 5 months our pediatrician advised it was time for solids. I protested that I wanted to wait until 6 months but she was pretty convincing with her explanation that our babies are not always going to do what we want them to do... :-) We replaced the 10am nursing with rice cereal mixed with expressed breast milk. It took about a week for them to catch on, but I was amazed how quickly after that they LOVED eating the cereal. We also cut out the 3am nursing and the boys slept through the night without any issue (again, I was waking them up at 3am anyway). At my next appointment with the pediatrician we added another "meal" at 1pm, ALWAYS mixing their food with expressed breast milk. My Ped. said that that wasn't necessary since I was still nursing, but it made me feel better and they liked the taste so I went with it.

A lot of people are going to tell you how great fruits (like bananas) are as first foods because your kids will LOVE them. Well, that's because they're sweet and who doesn't like sweet foods? For that reason, we waited over a month before giving our boys ANY fruit (and still haven't given them juice). We started with green veggies and even now make a point of giving them at least 1 green veggie with lunch and dinner (if not every meal). They love their vegetables and gobble them up. Bananas were their first fruit and are a staple in their diets as well.

My appliance of choice for making the first foods was a blender. You're going to want to puree their foods-- I would just slightly overcook frozen vegetables and then blend away. My boys have always liked a little texture (they never liked watery foods), but texture and grit are two very different things. Infants can choke and gag on gritty or chunky foods, so make sure they're smooth. The key is not adding too much water to the blender. You can always add it as you go along and then your purees won't be too runny.

My last piece of advice would be to stay away from seasonings for a while. That way your daughter will LOVE plain veggies and the seasonings that come along later will be a treat. I've spoken to other mothers who are finding it nearly impossible to get their children to eat fresh veggies, etc, because they want "flavored" foods instead. That goes for water vs. juice, too.

Best of luck!

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answers from Buffalo on

Breastfed babies respond best to delayed solids. Their stomachs arent mature enough to handle solids until a MINIMUM of 6 months. We started my son around 7.5-8 months on solids. Keep in mind that breastfed babies need just that...breastmilk and that solids are complimentary. They should not replace meals...most of their nutrition should come from you, so don't worry so much about planning scheduled meals. We never used rice cereals. It is just empty calories and not very good for them nutritionally. Most peds (and other moms) will recommend this as a first food because its a low allergen and it has high iron. Other than that is has zero nutritional value. The iron, to top it off is very hard for babies to digest because it is fortified, not a natural source of iron, so they dont absorb much of it and in turn get constipated. A good first food (as recommneded by La Leche League and Dr. Sears) is bananas, avacado, and sweet potatoe. We did make our own food. I would steam or bake whatever the fruit or veggie was, then use a mini food processor and freeze it into 2 oz. portions...then it was ready to be served when I needed it. You can add a little ground cinnamon or nutmeg to some of your purees. If you need any liquid to make it runnier, use your own milk. I did this with egg yolk. Its fun making my own food, and tastes much better than jarred! You could also try self-feeding, which we also did and was fun. We would leave his food in big pieces for him to grasp (soft or cooked foods so he wouldnt choke) and let him bring it to his mouth and explore the texture and tastes at his own pace, instead of shoving it in with a spoon. He seemed to like this best, though it did get messy from time to time! She won't get much in his belly, but remember, solids is just to taste and explore, not to actually least not for a while. Breastmilk should be her sole nutrition for the first year with solids being complimentary. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

You could start now if she can sit in a high chair and her tongue-thrust reflex (look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about) is gone. Definetly start with the rice, then barley, then oatmeal. After that I would suggest doing all the vegetables one by one first because they're less palatable then the fruits. I used Gerber and it was fine. If you have the time and patience to puree you're own food, then more power to ya but I don't see the point.



answers from New York on

Feeding was one of my big hot button concerns. I found this great book on the late side, When my son was 13mo. But he was such a late eater it was still helpful.

"Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense" by Ellyn Satter and actually am entering a new phase and may check it out from the library again.

Note: Kids won't let themselves starve. As I've been reminded many times! She's going to start "real" food more and more and will maybe go through my son's five day phase of "I only eat bananas" Now at 18mo he is a big fan of eating table food and has lots of opinions about what he will and will not eat!



answers from Utica on

if there is a local Leleche League(Nursing protocol) in your area, attend a meeting or two. They can be very helpful on this. it costs nothing to begin. They are usually listed in the events area of your newspaper and they also do telephone assistance if you need it.



answers from New York on

HI...I know that starting things can be difficult.
I actually started my baby on rice first and added just a little bit of fruit to add to the taste.
I used formula and especially breastmilk to make the cereal. My mom (nurse) said it's better to start with rice...because it's harder to get them to eat rice. I hope that this helps.
I do have a big boy...and he does like to eat...but it has been really successful. He is almost 7 mo and he is eating carrots,potatoes,squash...rice,oatmeal and most of the fruits
Have a great day!



answers from Rochester on

More info is coming in that advocates waiting until 6 months. That being said, my ped'n is still saying 4 months. I waited until 6, then 6.5, then 7, and he still didn't like rice, so I just gave him his own time. We started all the stage 1 around 7.5. He is doing fine - eating well.

The only problem we have is finding foods (jarred) that don't introduce more than one new food at a time. We are being very careful with that. (I've seen anaphylaxis, and have NO WISH for my son to ever have to endure that or worse).

You can keep up the breastfeeding as much as you like - it's still good for her! I feed my son when he wakes, before his solid meals (gives him a good start on digesting and not getting constipated), after his meals, at night and when he is thirsty.

I also pump for his cereal. I feel better about that than water. He likes it too.

Good luck,

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