Listen to Your Baby, Not the Book
At the recent RoundGlass Blossom Breast is Best – Nourish to Flourish event in Mumbai, YouTuber and mother Tina Bedi admitted how overwhelmed she felt when trying to figure out how (and when) to introduce solids to her child.
Do I listen to this website; do I listen to that website? Do I listen to this mom? Where do I go, what do I do? It’s so confusing.
Determining a weaning schedule, finding homemade baby food recipes, and managing solid food intake for your child is a big job. No wonder she was confused!
Too Much of a Good Thing
I think every parent has been there – surrounded by realms of experts (both legitimate and self-proclaimed) giving advice about first foods for baby and driving yourself totally nuts trying to figure out which is the right one. There’s baby led weaning methods and the delayed introducing solids schedule; organic baby cereals and homemade baby food recipes; weight charts and other babies to compare your child to.
You and your baby stand right in the midst of all this well-meaning advice, tasked with wading through it and choosing the right path. Saying it’s confusing is a huge understatement.
I remember feeling like this so often in the first year after my daughter was born, like the right way was out there somewhere and all I had to do was find it! I spent hours devouring books and scouring the internet, hoping to land on something that every expert agreed on. I never did.
During one of these moments of confusion, my mom said something incredible to me that changed my entire philosophy towards feeding – and towards parenting, too.
What she said was: “Your baby hasn’t read the book”.
The “Right Way”
You see, my daughter didn’t know she was “supposed” to be sleeping through the night. She didn’t know she was “supposed” to begin eating solids at six months old. She didn’t know she should begin walking at a year or talking at eighteen months.
She didn’t read the books, she didn’t scour the internet, she wasn’t comparing herself to my friend’s babies. She was simply doing what children do best, developing each ability when she was ready. Hitting each milestone when she was physically and mentally able. According to the expert timetables, she was sometimes early, sometimes late, and often right on the mark.
What I began to understand over time (and with my mom’s sage advice in mind) was that there isn’t one right way to do things, there’s only the right way for your child. Pushing my daughter to do things before she was ready only resulted in frustration for both of us.
I ended up doing what Bedi did, too, “I would just shut it all out and listen to my child,” she explained. “You have to follow your instincts.”
So…is your child ready for solids?
What does listening to your child look like in practice, especially with children that don’t yet speak? It simply means recognizing when they’re ready to do something, rather than imposing an external schedule.
At Blossom’s Breast is Best event, Dr. Rolly Sapru, who specializes in Prenatal & Antenatal care, shared a few telltale signs that your baby is ready for solid food (and a few signs that you can ignore, too).
Your baby is likely ready to begin eating solid food if:
- She shows an interest in food
- Has good hand-eye coordination and bring food from the table to his mouth
- She can cup her lips around a spoon
- He is able to move his jaw up and down in a chewing motion
- She can sit up independently
And while it’s developmentally appropriate for your child to wake up during the night or mouth his fist, these behaviours don’t indicate that he or she is ready to begin solids.
Your baby hasn’t read the book! No one knows your child quite as well as you do. Trusting your instincts and your child’s unique developmental pace is a skill you must learn to develop, just like any other.
Allowing your child to take on the experience of seating solid foods when he or she demonstrates readiness is ready is a perfect way to begin.