You have heard it from your mommy friends, you may have heard it from your mom. You may even hear it from your pediatrician, but not everyone thinks that when your baby is finally ready for solids, it has to be rice cereal. The conventional wisdom behind that common advice is it’s easily digested and unlikely to sensitize your baby to allergens. These are good things!
Rice cereal is also controversial, particularly if your family has a history of diabetes, and it’s never a good idea if your baby is less than four months old. It’s even controversial if your baby has reflux (scroll to page three).
But some research and pediatricians are suggesting that your baby has many other, much more tempting options available for its first solid meal! This is the very provocative lede to this article…
Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even – gasp! – hot peppers.
The deal is this, according to those who are smarter than I am…the closer your baby is to six months old, the less likely they are to become sensitized to allergens in what they eat. So the allergy concern addressed by rice cereal becomes moot. Their digestive system is also more mature, so the ease with which a baby can digest rice cereal also becomes irrelevant.
We started solids at about 5 1/2 months with sweet potatoes. Mmmmmmmm….
So how do you know when your baby is ready for solids? Here are some things to look for….
The infant should be able to do the following:
1. Sit with support
2. Have good head and neck control
3. Push up with straight elbows from lying face down
4. Show readiness for varied textures of supplemental foods by placing their hands or toys in their mouth
5. Lean forward and open the mouth when interested in food, and lean back and turn away when uninterested in the food or not hungry
6. Additional skills are necessary before an infant should be allowed to progress to eating finger foods
7. By eight to 10 months, infants begin to have the skills necessary to eat finger foods independently (can sit independently, grasp and release food, chew food (even without teeth), and swallow)
8. By 12 months, fine motor skills improve, allowing the child to grasp pieces of food between two fingers
Also, if you try to feed your baby and they push the food out of their mouth with their tongue, you should hold off for a little while. That’s called the “tongue thrust” reflex, and means they are not quite ready for solids.
When your baby reaches these milestones, and you and your pediatrician have decided on an appropriate first food, it’s time to get out the camera! Those pictures and videos of your baby’s confusion and then possibly delight will be priceless! Yes, it’ll be messy, but that’s part of the charm. Just make sure you put plastic down on the floor lol. You’ll thank me later.
(Originally posted @ Pea in the Podcast)
PS…since I wrote this post awhile back, one of my favorite pediatricians, Dr. Alan Greene, has resolved to get rice cereal out of babies’ diets for good! His campaign is called “WhiteOut Now” and you can learn much more about it here. You can also follow Dr. Greene’s efforts to get the WhiteOut of babies’ diets on Facebook here.