Your baby's first year can be a roller coaster - one that comes with plenty of emotional highs and lows as your baby starts hitting major physical, mental and emotional milestones.
One of the biggest milestones is trying to switch your baby from drinking breastmilk and/or formula to starting regular food.
Because it's an ongoing process, we've put together three tips to help you make the transition. Keep in mind, babies are slow to adopt new foods, and sometimes you have to put things in front of them up to 10 times before they will eat it.
Patience, time and a good sense of humor are all key for a happy baby and happy parents. (Not to mention some good cleaning supplies!)
1) EARLY ON, START ONE FOOD AT A TIME*
I'm sure you've heard this one, but it's worth repeating. With so many food allergies present in schools these days, you never know what your kid is allergic to until they start developing hives, a rash, or worse, they struggle to breathe afterward.
When you're getting started, take it slow, and serve the same food a couple of days in a row to make sure there isn't any reaction. That way, you can pinpoint exactly what the problem food is in case your kid has a problem with it.
Check with your doctor on what foods to start with, as most practices keep sheets with the recommended options.
Here's a quick tip, especially if you're using baby purees: Make sure to start with vegetables FIRST, as most babies will prefer fruit over veggies, and it will be harder to introduce veggies after the sweet taste of fruit.
2) USE FOODS THAT MASH UP EASILY OR DISSOLVE
You may be feeding your baby some purees (which are always good), but you'll also want to start feeding them real food. Depending on the number of teeth they have, this can be tricky.
Some of the best staples to start with? Cheerios, puffs, rice rusks, banana, avocado, scrambled eggs, yogurt (look for plain Greek for the least amount of sugar) and cooked black beans are always healthy and good options. These can be diced or mashed in your baby's mouth, and swallowed easily.
You can also start bits of fruits and veggies too. Dice up strawberries, blueberries, mango and other fruits for a sweeter taste, and then you can heat up frozen veggie mixes with peas, corn and green beans. Be sure these cook long enough so they are easily chewed.
3) DON'T GET DISCOURAGED
It's SO easy to get frustrated with this process, especially if your baby is like mine and throws most of his food to the dogs. (Sigh - our dogs are getting overweight as we speak!)
However, babies are fickle creatures and what works one day might not always work the next. Keep offering healthy options (and not too much at a time), and sooner or later your baby will eat.
If your baby seems to have trouble eating in his or her high chair, try sitting with him or her in your lap at the table, or positioning the high chair with the table while everyone is eating. As your baby realizes that eating is what he or she is supposed to do, they will eventually do more of it.
**Most doctors recommend starting your baby slowly on new foods around the 4-6 month mark, depending on their development. Definitely check with your doctor before you start any kind of solid foods, as he or she will have the best recommendations.