At six months old, a baby may already be sitting up on his own, hopefully sleeping longer stretches and most excitedly of all, he is finally ready for some food. The amount of misinformation out there is plentiful though and lots of moms wish they could get a second chance at introducing starter foods while still continuing to feed on their own natural supplies.
As simple as it may seem to simply start feeding baby, there are a couple of do's and don’ts to keep in mind. Many moms we spoke to didn’t realize that what they were doing at the time was either causing even more restless nights than before or was resulting in some tummy issues in their babies.
While we, unfortunately, can’t hit the rewind button and start over, the good news is that expectant moms today or moms whose babies are approaching the golden milestone of starting food may learn from the mistakes of others. And at the end of the day, that’s one of the best ways to learn.
Should the baby be fed solids before or after milk? Should fruits or vegetables be first? Should foods be pureed or served BLW-style? The questions are endless but luckily, these moms have been through it all and they now know better.
20 Letting Relatives Sneak Them Food
Parents and family members have the best advice… okay, most certainly not always! Riana shared:
"I come from a big family with equally as big traditions about food. All our get-togethers revolve around food, family and just having a good time. One thing I definitely regret is letting older family members sneak food to my baby before he was six months old. They said it was no big deal to give ice cream or anything else but then I’m the one who had to deal with a very gassy and uncomfortable baby, who then didn’t want to breastfeed either, in the middle of the night. It also made it difficult to starts solids afterward because he wanted the sweet stuff instead."
19 Ignoring The Signs
When it comes to regrets, Ellie told us about one of the most widely shared one among moms and parents in general:
"One of my biggest errors is offering solids before my baby turned six months. I wish I could change that with my first. I didn’t realize it at the time but she just was NOT ready. I started at 4 months when she couldn’t sit up on her own yet and she just overall wasn’t interested in the food at all but I didn’t know any better at the time and it was the advice my mom gave."
18 Never Mind The Pediatrician
As much as pediatricians are supposed to be the experts, they don’t always have the best advice. Melissa told us:
"100% if I could do things over, I would not give my LO baby cereal. When my sweet baby boy turned six months, the pediatrician recommended mixing a little breastmilk with cereal. He said that there wasn’t iron in my breastmilk and that I needed to get an iron-fortified rice cereal to compensate. He also said that my baby will start sleeping through the night. With my second, I skipped cereal altogether because of all the information about it being empty calories and the increased risk of obesity."
17 Not Thin Enough
For the moms who do choose to give baby cereal, mixing it with breastmilk is a good way to start. For Danielle, things didn’t exactly go as planned:
"Despite all the information out there, I don’t actually regret giving my baby cereal as a starter food. What I do regret is that not making it thin enough using my breastmilk. I figured that since she’d be having food next, I should be making the mixture a little more dense. That made it harder for her to eat though and less willing to try actual food afterward."
16 Following The Order
What should come first? Breastfeeding or giving food? Whitley shed some insight:
"Once my baby girl reached her six months milestone, I was beyond stoked to finally try solids. Soon as we would wake up, I would whisk her over to her high chair and offer pureed fruits like bananas and strawberries. Breastfeeding afterwards was really challenging though because she would be too full. So if I could do things over, I would breastfeed before every meal."
As her story proves, it’s actually better to breastfeed first and then follow up with food. At this stage, breastfeeding is still a baby’s primary source of nutrients and food is just for fun.
15 A Backed-Up Baby
Feeding a baby for the first time can be a really confusing process. It can be especially easy to get carried away in the fun and excitement… and end up feeding a little too much.
"In my excitement to start solids, I didn’t realize that I offered food too often. I didn’t know what was going on back then but it caused my baby to get really backed up because he didn’t breastfeed as much as a result. Even when I would try to nurse, he would refuse so I took it as he didn’t want any. In reality, I should have probably insisted more," shared Patricia.
14 Weaning or Simply On Strike?
Starting solids can also cause some confusion with regards to weaning. But just because the baby rejects breastfeeding doesn’t actually mean they are ready to wean, as Heidi’s story proves,
"I totally wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible with my first. But after I started solids, my baby weaned himself. Looking back on it now (and three more children later,) I realize now that’s not exactly what happened. I thought he was ready to wean but I’m pretty sure he was just going through a nursing strike. I should have continued nursing. I try not to think about it too much but the mom guilt is strong because I successfully nursed all my other children until 2 years of age."
13 Avoiding Fruits
When we envision starting solids, the first foods to come to mind are usually fruits because they are the easiest. However, Jen wishes she would have started with vegetables instead. She told us,
"I didn't think anything of it in the moment but if I could go back, I wouldn't have started my baby on apples and pears. As innocent as that sounds, it actually caused big problems for us. As pears and apples are sweet, my baby then refused everything else we tried to give him. We overcame this by mixing the fruit and the veg together but still, I wish I would have just started with vegetables."
12 … Especially The Liquid Ones
To give juice or not to give juice? Doctors advise against it but it can be hard to avoid listening to old-fashioned family members. Dede told us:
"Moms talk about regrets all the time but mine is a huge one. I REALLY regret giving my baby juice starting at six months old. It majorly interfered with our breastfeeding sessions and it was the hardest thing to get him to eat boring veggies afterward. Honestly, I shouldn’t have listened to my MIL on this one but I’m just happy that I stopped at 7 months. He’s 4 years old now and still mainly only drinks water or milk. Yay!"
11 Don't Wait Too Long To Start On Solids
For her part, Micaela shared with us what she wishes she could go back in the past and change:
"Food before one is just for fun, right? Well, I took this saying a little too much to heart and waited too long to start solids. I thought she was fine since I was breastfeeding all the time and I’ll admit I was also scared of allergies because many of these run in my family. Once we finally started, he was REALLY finicky and disliked every type of pureed food I tried to offer. It wasn’t until a friend recommended BLW that things really picked up."
10 Breastfeeding Is Not An Effective Form Of Birth Control
Lots of moms talk about regretting starting fruits over veggies or purees over chunks… but there’s another very important aspect of starting solids while breastfeeding that isn’t often mentioned. Marci shared with us:
“After I gave birth, my gynecologist suggested I go on the mini [form of birth control]. But my grandmother convinced me that I didn’t need it because breastfeeding would work as a natural birth control. [...] We should have probably re-thought our strategy once our baby started solids though because… my period came back and I got pregnant again.”
9 Falling Back On Nursing
When a baby turns six months old, you’re supposed to take lots of pics of a happy baby trying food for the first time. But what do you do when baby wants nothing to do with the new experience?
"I started my baby on solids the moment she turned six months old but what I thought was going to be a happy and fun process turned to be anything but!! She was picky from the start and made the most sour-looking facial expressions at everything. I gave up and went back to only breastfeeding for a little while. In hindsight, I realize now that I should have given her more of a chance to get accustomed to the foods. Instead, I would just offer something else," explained Alison.
8 Solids Do Not Replace Breastfeeding
Michelle was very insistent in her recommendation to moms,
"Repeat after me: solids are not a replacement for breastfeeding. And yes, that’s exactly where I went wrong. When my baby started solids, I thought I needed to breastfeed less. I still shake my head at my own ignorance and I wish I wouldn’t have skipped the lunchtime nursing session just because he was loading up on starter foods."
So take note breastfeeding moms! As we already covered, it’s very important to nurse first and offer food afterward. Milk should still be the primary source of nutrients over anything else.
7 There Can Be Developmental Leaps
Sometimes, the process of starting food can go beautifully, only to suddenly turn very confusing. Katielyn recounted her experience,
"Everything was going great with starting solids but then out of nowhere, my LO completely rejected food, even ones he seemed to have really enjoyed before. At the time, it felt like I was really not succeeding as a mother with regards to the huge milestone of starting solids while continuing to nurse. I kept trying, only to have mealtimes end in tears, mine and LOs from feeling pressured! A little while later, I realized that he was just going through a developmental leap. A few weeks later, his appetite returned and he went back to both being eager to eat and breastfeed."
6 Pinterest Is A Good Source Of Inspiration
With the advent of social media and especially Pinterest, many veteran moms are now looking at new moms with envy, wishing they would have thought of doing some of the nifty things posted about now. Dermita said,
"When I was breastfeeding my first, there was no Pinterest. So if I could go back, I would totally make all breastmilk popsicles, mixed with some pureed fruits or other creative combinations. It’s something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years and I’m totally jelly of the new moms now. I’m certainly looking forward to mixing the breastmilk and food for some teething relief with my next baby!"
5 Skipping Right To Chunks
To puree or to BLW, that is the question.
"When we started foods, one thing I wish I could just skip was pureed foods. Just give it to him in little pieces as is. I thought because he had no teeth he needed it to be soft… NOPE! Those gums are hard as rocks and they can eat anything except for honey and cow’s milk," hilariously shared Haley.
Whereas BLW used to be an obscure concept, it’s now increasingly becoming the favored recommendation. Whether to offer purees or try baby-led weaning entirely rests on the parents but there is a lot of evidence to support skipping right to chunks when starting baby on food.
4 Proteins First Is Not Such A Bad Idea
The recommendation has lately also been changing with regards to allergies, as Kelsie’s story proves:
"Having only breastfed until then and being a pretty crunchy mama overall, I was pretty reluctant when the pediatrician recommended starting my little one on proteins first, followed by eggs and peanut butter. I was SUPER scared of allergies at the time and figured he didn’t know what he was talking about. Fast forward to now and I totally regret not listening… he is the expert for a reason. With my second, I did listen and everything went fine. The only thing I skipped is iron-fortified cereal since we were doing meats."
3 Working Around Old Habits
Starting solids is exciting but many moms don’t necessarily think about when they should offer food. Nikki told us about her experience:
"As fun as starting solids is supposed to be made, there’s a big oversight I made that I wish I could go back and undo. Being someone who tends to skip breakfast, I chose to introduce new foods around dinnertime. This made it difficult to monitor for a reaction and actually caused my little girl to wake up often during the night with a tummy ache. Turns out she has a more sensitive tummy and this made it difficult to nurse as well as she was inconsolable."
2 Spit Ups Happen
Not all babies handle the different kinds of foods as well as others. Sometimes, there are issues worth investigating and it’s a good thing Jennifer realized what was going on. She said,
"Since my baby was a newborn, he always spit up quite a lot even though he was breastfed. When it came time to starting solids, he spit up even more the first time we tried apples and bananas. Basic foods like broccoli and cauliflower caused a lot of burping and I just wish I could have known what I know now. Turns out that certain foods were causing reflux and aggravating him… which I really should have caught onto since I ate those foods while breastfeeding too. Once we started avoiding some of these, things got better."
1 Just Like Mommy
Starting solids isn’t just all about food. There’s another important aspect breastfeeding moms forget to consider sometimes, as Maegan shared,
"I’d have started introducing the cup sooner. With nursing all the time, it was easy to assume that my baby didn’t need a bottle or a cup, especially since I didn’t pump either. The moment my little one grabbed a cup and tried to drink out of it is when I realized that he probably needed his own cup to go along with starting the milestone of eating."
Too cute! We can just imagine what’s going to happen once her baby gets ahold of mommy’s makeup!
References: Interviews with moms.