Weaning Part I: When to Start Solids

This post is part of a series of posts on breastfeeding and weaning. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and would love to hear your thoughts on it. You can find the other posts in the series here:

Weaning Part II: Baby's First Food Weaning Part III: Baby Led Weaning Weaning Part IV: Allergies and Foods to Avoid Weaning Part V: When to Stop Breastfeeding

Just a few weeks ago my son, Thaddeus, turned 7 months old. It was a big day for me on many levels, but perhaps most significant was the fact that at 7 months old he was still exclusively breast fed. This felt like a little mini-victory to me. I can honestly say that I LOVE breastfeeding, but I’ll also be the first to admit that it has been really hard at times. At the beginning there were times when I literally felt like he was going to suck the very life out of me. But I survived and pushed past that uncomfortable beginning phase. I even survived a breast infection and numerous growth spurts when he just wanted to nurse all the time. I pushed past it all and I am so glad I did.

In the past few months Bryan and I have had a lot of conversations about when we wanted to start Thaddeus on solid food and what we want to be his first foods. I’ve also spent a lot of time reading and researching so that we could be informed as we make these decisions. We have always tried to be very intentional about the decisions we make and even more so when it comes to parenting. We don’t want to make decisions just because that’s the way everyone else is doing it, or that’s the way we’ve been told we should do it. We want to be intentional and informed in our decisions – as much as possible.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted my son to have nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of his life. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding is what the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend as the minimum. But I also heard of a few studies which seemed to suggest that there might be some benefits to waiting till 7 months to introduce food. For example, there was a study done in 1995 that researched iron levels in babies. The conclusion of this study was that “The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies’ breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia.” So, my minimum goal was six months, but for the past month or two I have wanted to hold off until seven months.

Almost every day for the past few weeks we’ve had a discussion about whether this week might be the week that we start Thaddeus on solid food. My husband has been very excited to start Thaddeus on solid food. Food is something valued in our family and we look forward to introducing him to the culinary joys of a bright red tomato, the crisp refreshing flavor of celery root, the savory sweetness of sautéed onion, the tang of yogurt, the sour juice of a fresh lemon, and so much more. But, Bryan has been very patient and willing to wait to introduce Thad to food when we’re both ready and both feel it’s the best time.

I personally have had really mixed feelings about starting Thaddeus on solid food. There is a part of me that is really excited about it – like Bryan I look forward to teaching Thad about food. But, there is also a part of me that is scared to introduce food. I know already that Thaddeus is a really sensitive baby and I worry about how he will react to solid food since I have a history of allergies. I also feel a bit sad about introducing solids since it will be the first step in the process of weaning and it already makes me a little sad to think of not nursing someday. Overall, though, I have slowly been starting to feel ready.

Thaddeus has definitely seemed ready for a while now. He is showing pretty much all the signs they say to look for:

  • Good head control.
  • Sitting upright well.
  • Is ready and willing to chew.
  • Is developing a “pincer” grasp.
  • Shows an interest in food.
  • Etc.

So, this week after much discussion and a visit to the pediatrician (who encouraged us to start solids, although she was not at all concerned that I was still nursing and seemed fine with it if I wanted to make the choice to continue nursing exclusively) we decided to take the plunge. We gave Thaddeus his first bit of solid food last Thursday (May 6th).

But, we did things a little differently than the norm (of course). So, tomorrow I’ll tell you about what we gave Thaddeus for his first food, how it went and why we decided to do things that way.

Anyone want to take a guess at what my son’s first food was? Or if you have kids what was their first food? Or do you know what your first food was?

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman