Contributor: Sara Lappe, MD
For many moms and dads I see on a daily basis, the introduction of solid foods is an anxiety-provoking occasion. Before and after the arrival of a new baby, parents are showered with an overabundance of advice, but often, they don’t know what to do when it comes to feeding.
The problem is that most of us tend to overthink feeding, and what we really need to do is just get back to the basics. Trust me: Feeding your infant doesn’t have to be a stressful situation.
To help ease the transition, try these five simple steps.
Remember: Your meal time should also be your child’s meal time. Start making meals a family event from day one – without any screens or other electronic distractions.
Your child learns by observing you. He or she will pick up on how you eat and what you eat at mealtime, so it’s important to not only keep your little one included, but to also lead by example.
Never, ever should your child be moving around while eating, as this will only lead to bad eating habits later in life.
When introducing your infant to foods, you expose him or her to new things, and allowing your child to learn a new skill. Just like walking or talking, eating is a developmental skill, and it may take some time for your child to get the hang of it.
Each flavor or texture is a new experience and a way for your kid to explore the world.
Purees can be made at home or purchased at the store. Every few days, introduce a new food or flavor, and be sure to opt for a variety of colors of foods.
If your child doesn’t like a food the first time you try it, don’t despair, and try again another time.
My daughter spit bananas at me for months, and now she loves them. It can take 10 to 15 attempts to offer the same food before your child will start to eat it.
As you introduce foods, also introduce water in a cup to help your infant digest solid foods and prevent constipation.
A serving size for a 6-month-old is a tablespoon. Offer a new food every few days, and as your child increases interest, increase the frequency to three times per day.
Let your child play with the spoon if he or she wants. Let your child get messy and experience the food with all of his or her senses. It can be frustrating to watch that glob of sweet potatoes splatter all over the high chair, but this is part of learning how to eat.
By keeping your cool and letting your kid enjoy the whole experience of feeding, he or she will be well on his or her way to learning how to eat.
Parents’ guide to choosing a pediatrician
This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic.