Friday, November 19, 2010

Request from Our Readers Week 31

This post we're discussing starting solids. Here's what our reader had to say:

"My little boy is 5 months old and I'm wanting to get him started on solids sometime soon. He nurses 5 times a day, 4 hrs apart. Once I started thinking about the logistics I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. I've looked at a lot of websites and can't really find what I'm looking for. So, here are my questions. How do you incorporate solids in with your nursing schedule? How many times a day? What time of day? How much food? Before or after you nurse? How much time do you wait before or after the nursing? When do you start having solids replace nursings? Any advice on this topic would be greatly appreciated!!"

Help her out!


Alyssa Harper said...

You're doing fine! Don't feel pressured to get all that solid food down as soon as possible. Babies can very healthily live off mainly breast milk for the first year of life, so for the first 5-6 months of eating solids, the activity serves basically two purposes 1) practice and 2) introducing flavors. Of course, you're also filling in nutrients like iron, but the more practice your baby gets, the easier it'll be to get the nutrients in when it's really needed (around 1 year old).

For the first month or so, eating solids was purely practice and play. I fed him after nursing. I didn't worry about getting a bunch of that mushy stuff down. The nutrient intake needed by solids is still insignificant at thing point.

By the 2rd or 3rd month into it, I started flipping the eating pattern of one meal. Solids first, then nursing. When baby's hungry, you can guess he'll eat more of what comes first, so naturally, he started eating more solids.

By the 4th month, my boy was eating lunch and dinner with the solids first, nursing second.

Gradually work this pattern into his eating schedule, always letting him nurse as much as he wanted either before or after the solids-session. Breast milk is important! Keep it up as long as possible! I didn't completely replace nursing with solids until after his first birthday...when we switched to whole milk.

Good luck!

Rebecca said...

I remember feeling the exact same way as you 5 months ago...there was nothing I could find that explains how to incorporate solids with your current feeding schedule. It's probably because there are so many different ways to incorporate it and what works for one baby doesn't work for another. Some people breastfeed first, then give solids or breastfeed 1/2 the time, give solids, and then finish breastfeeding or solids then breastfeed or do solids in between feedings.

For me breastfeeding and then solids worked best because with the other ways her breastmilk intake would decrease. Once she got older and I was told to start incorporating 3 meals a day I changed her eating routine and did everything seperate. At 10 months she eats about every 2 hours, alternating bottles and solids. 4 bottles of breastmilk and 3 solid meals total a day.

This is roughly what my schedule has been with solids the past 5 months:

5-6 months: rice cereal once a day in the late afternoon after her 4th bottle.
6-8 months: started introducing veggies & fruits. fed plain oatmeal mixed with breastmilk about 30-45 minutes after morning bottle (added fruit to the oatmeal after I introduced fruits to her diet) and veggie/fruit puree after fourth bottle.
8 months: this is when she was on 3 meals a day and I started to do bottles and solids seperate. I also started introducing meats and some finger foods.
9 months: introduced more fingers foods and little bits of dairy (yogurt and cheese).
About 10 months: dropped to 4 bottles a day, but total breastmilk intake stayed the same.

As for when solids replace nursings I think especially with breastfed babies nursings aren't replaced they just get shorter. I don't know this personally because I have to pump and feed. But as for my daughter she kept at five bottles a day from 4 months to 9 1/2 months...the amount she took at each bottle did start to decrease just a little around 7-8 months. It wasn't until just this week that she dropped to 4 bottles.

As for how much they should eat my pediatrician really stressed to follow my baby's lead with solids. If they want more, give them more. If they're done after a couple bites, then let them be done.

Try not to worry too much about it since breastmilk provides most of the nourishment they need for the first year. I was always told "Before 1, it's just for fun!"

Laura said...

In the very beginning, I would recommend nursing at least a little bit first. While he is still learning how to use his mouth in a different way, it would be better if he wasn't completely starving when he gets the new food. That could be very frustrating to him and make the whole experience negative.

For my own sanity, I generally found a time to give solids away from regular family meal times. It was too complicated for me to get dinner ready, make sure everyone had food, and try to feed the baby while I somehow managed to feed myself. I would give rice cereal or whatever maybe an hour before (or whenever), then give some finger foods or toys to play with in the high chair during regular meals, so the baby still feels like part of the family.

I don't replace nursing or bottles until the baby will consistently eat enough to constitute a "meal", like an entire jar of baby food (or more) or what you would consider a substantial amount of rice cereal. Another option would be to wait to replace nursing until they can basically feed themselves. Once they have the basic idea of a daughter still doesn't really use it, but she'll hold it in one hand while she eats with her other hand. ;) I think that still counts.

Like Rebecca said, follow your child's lead. If they really like a particular food, give it to them. If they don't like it, don't push too hard (although do introduce again later). Since most nutrition, if not all, is still coming from nursing, solids can be taken more as a learning experience and something fun and different rather than purely sustenance.