Introducing solids to the baby should be a matter between you, your baby, and your pediatrician. There are many schools of thought on the subject. Earlier generations of moms, for example, believed that starting solids early was necessary to get a child to sleep through the night. Cereal may help a child feel fuller, but many children who are not given solids early sleep through the night, too.
Some children are ready to try solids at as early as four months, others at six months or even later. The most important thing to remember is to make your own decision about it. You are not a neglectful mother if you and your pediatrician believe it is best to wait to introduce solids to your child's diet.
Once again, you've got to go with what works for you. Your mother or mother-in-law may disagree and tell you how different things were in their day. Acknowledge their superior wisdom if you like, be polite, and do your own thing anyway. If you can't get away from the interference, then learn to be thick-skinned and stand up for yourself. It is important that you be in control of all important decisions as they relate to your child. You'll need this kind of confidence as your child grows and continues to test his or her limits. If you don't believe in your own authority, you'll have a hard time getting your child to believe in it.
Which Baby Food Is Best?
Back in the 1960s and '70s, mothers first became aware of the nutritional content of commercial baby foods. There was newfound concern about the filler and sugar content of many of them. Some mothers even made their own baby food, grinding their own peas and beans from the garden. This is not realistic for most moms today—not with all the demands that life and work place on our time.
New Commercial Baby Food Options
One good outcome of those years of baby-food awareness is that there are many fine baby foods available today to fit every need. There are even natural baby foods, made with no added sugar and only organic ingredients. But sometimes the natural products are too expensive to use on an regular basis. You will be just fine if you choose your baby food according to what is on sale in a particular week. Just remember that it is best to use an entire jar in one feeding, or dispose of the unused portion. To avoid contamination, you want to be overcautious as far as germs and food storage are concerned.
Be very careful to toss out unused portions of baby food. A tiny amount of bacteria that might not affect an adult's system can make a baby very ill.
Making the Change
When you feed your baby for the first time, he or she is going to look at you as though you are crazy. And if you wait for the baby to make the first move you are going to find cereal or mashed peas dribbling gracefully to the floor. Here's one great technique (courtesy of my mother—this was one of the rare moments when I wasn't too stubborn to take her advice): Firmly and confidently take the baby spoon in hand, and put the food directly into the baby's mouth sideways (not tip-first). The baby will likely cooperate until she discovers how much fun it is to play the “I'll close my mouth and drive my mommy crazy” or “Lets see how far I can spit mashed peas” games.