1) Signs of readiness: Listen to your children’s cues. Babies should begin simple solids/tastes when they show interest by grabbing food off mom and dad’s plates, have lost their tongue thrust reflex, make clucking/mimicking sounds or gestures with mouth, and can sit up on their own. Don’t give in to pressure by doctors, other moms, or your own mom to give solids before your child is ready. Remember babies don’t NEED solid food. Your breastmilk is supplying them with complete nutrition for the first year of life.
2) Appropriate food choices: Introduce orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut and acorn squash) as well as nonglutinous grain cereals first (Millet, rice, and quinoa). These foods tonify Spleen and help to set up healthy digestive function.
3) Introducing solids: Steam or slow cook all foods and always serve foods warmed to 100 degrees. The 100 degree soup helps to aid in easy digestion of new solids. If your baby rejects food, maybe it’s too soon. Stick with breast milk and try again in a week or few weeks.
4) Foods to avoid: Avoid overly sweet foods first. Too much of the sweet flavor weakens the Spleen energy. Therefore, fruit is not the best introduction to food. It sets up expectations for overly sweet foods and may deter children from eating other things. Bananas, although often discussed often as the perfect first food, are actually very energetically cold, overly sweet, and potentially damaging to the young Spleen. Avoid processed flours like crackers, puffs, teething cookies, cereal. They provide little nutritional value and deter kids from eating other, more nutritious foods. Whole food is always best.
5) Food stagnation: How much is too much? Initially, introduction of food should be just about “tastes.” Start by introducing only a tablespoon or less daily and repeat the same food for three days to determine any possible food allergies. Introduce single foods, not food combinations, and never feed a full breast or bottle after a meal of solids. This can cause accumulation in the stomach which leads to a type of pathologic heat. Signs of overfeeding/food stagnation are red cheeks, gas pain, restlessness/agitation, insomnia, constipation/irregular bowel movements. Food stagnation can weaken our Spleen energy which can lead to health issues such as eczema, asthma/allergies, chronic colds/flus, phlegm, ear infections, etc.
You don’t need to rely on processed jar food to start your baby on solids. Making your own baby food is easy and fun. You don’t eat food out of a box or a jar, so why would you give that to your littlest one?
SIMPLE GRAIN GRUEL:
3 Tbl Millet or Rice or Quinoa
¾ to 1 cup water
Bring to boil. Then simmer until grain has absorbed most of the water and is mushy.