Beginning Solids

A baby's first solid food is a big event—not only for the baby but also for the parents. It seems, at the time, as significant a forward step as graduation from high school or even college.

My mother told me that when I was a baby ninety years ago, we babies didn't get any solids until one year of age. That rule, like others, was established by Dr. Emmett I Iolt's book. The Can? and Feeding of Children, which my mother followed religiously, at least with her first child or two. I didn't think of being the first as an advantage. When I got into a quarrel with a younger sibling my mother always put the blame on me, saying, "Benny, you should have known better; you are the oldest." And she was always stricter in applying the niles with me. it seemed to me. For example. I wasn't allowed to eat even half a banana until I was twelve years old, because Dr. Holt said they were too indigestible. But I

remember that rule being relaxed progressively with each of my subsequent sisters and brother.

When I started pediatric practice in New York City in 1933, the most usual age for starting first solids was five months. When Baby and Child Care was published in 1 94 fi the most common age was three months.

A few years later, some physicians suggested starting cereal at one month and adding vegetables, fniit, and beef by three months. Why the rush? Beginning mothers were eager to have their babies keep up with—or even excel—their relative's or neighbor's babies. Some doctors were eager to compete with others, in being "advanced."'

Then gradually it was realized that much of the very early solids were not being digested, and that they sometimes interfered with the success of breastfeeding, which was beginning to be popular. So now we are back to five or six months as the time to begin solid food. I am strongly in favor of delaying solids until five or six months.

Cereal has generally remained the traditional first solid food, probably because it is bland and it rarely causes indigestion or allergy (except in the occasional case of a wheat allergy). The commercial rice cereal made for babies is fortified with iron, a necessary nutrient after six months of life for nursing babies and those not getting enough iron in formula.

I deviated from tradition in my practice and suggested apple sauce or raw, ripe banana as a first solid, because some babies are unenthusiastic about cereal for a while, and I was very reluctant to get them prejudiced or antagonistic toward any food.

Speaking of lack of enthusiasm for solids reminds me of how puzzled babies behave toward any first solid. They wrinkle up their noses. They block the food with their tongues, they push it around, and they make clacking noises. All of this pushes most of the food out of the mouth and onto the chin. The mother shaves as much as she can with the spoon and tiles to get it back into the mouth by scooping it off the spoon against the upper lip. Most of it oozes out again onto the chin but a little gets swallowed on each try.

It's not surprising that this skill takes time to learn. The spoon is a strange object! The muscles of the mouth are accustomed to squeezing milk between the nipple and the roof of the mouth and then it is pushed down the throat. The baby must learn to catch the food with the tip of the tongue, move it back over the top of the tongue and start it clown the throat with a "milking" motion of the tongue and throat. Fortunately, for most babies this remarkably complex set of movements takes only a few days or weeks to learn.

Baby Sleeping

Baby Sleeping

Everything You Need To Know About Baby Sleeping. Your baby is going to be sleeping a lot. During the first few months, your baby will sleep for most of theday. You may not get any real interaction, or reactions other than sleep and crying.

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