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Starting Baby Solids: Is the Mediterranean Approach Right for Your Baby?

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Introducing solids can be daunting and frustrating for any new mom. Pediatricians tell you one thing, experienced moms tell you another, and the recommendations seem to change on a constant basis. 

Shortly after I started introducing solids to my son (at four months—a bit early, but he was more than ready), we went on vacation to Italy for the summer. Since he was my first child, I followed every recommendation in the book, thus opting for introducing rice cereal as his first food. Although my son enjoyed it (usually mixed with fruit in the morning) the novelty soon wore off. Coincidentally, I found myself confused and uncertain as to when to incorporate other new foods, how much to feed him, and how to plan daily meals alternating between formula and solid food. To say it was frustrating is an understatement, and to my dismay there were no set guidelines for me to follow; that is until I decided to visit a pediatrician during our stay in Italy.

Although I wasn’t initially keen on revolutionizing our feeding schedule, I was relieved to have some sort of schedule to follow. Despite the fact that the Mediterranean approach varies significantly from the North American one, I surrendered to the ideal, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and the rest is pretty much history!  

In a nutshell, the Mediterranean approach to starting baby solids consists of:

Fresh fruits and vegetables

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image: Anne Stephneson / EyeEm / Getty

Vegetable broth

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Get the recipe for a great vegetable broth here via Bites for Babies

Baby cereal and/or tiny pasta, such as pastina

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Buy Barilla Pastina at Amazon.com

Full-fat yogurt  fage-full-fat-greek-yogurt-packageBuy Fage Greek Yogurt at Amazon.com

When I had my daughter almost two years later, I didn’t hesitate to choose the Mediterranean approach to introducing solids, not even for a moment. As simple and uncomplicated as it was, it made the food introduction process so much easier for me, and so much healthier and more delicious for my little ones. 

Here’s a typical meal plan for a six month old:
  1. Breakfast: 200 ml – 250 ml formula
  2. Morning snack: freshly grated fruit, such as apples, peaches, etc., or mashed banana
  3. Lunch: about 150 ml homemade vegetable broth, mixed with pureed veggies, rice cereal, or tiny pasta; garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan or soft cheese, such as Laughing Cow or ricotta 
  4. Afternoon snack: 2-3 Tbsp. plain full-fat yogurt (I prefer Greek) with fresh fruit or crumbled biscotti for added texture
  5. Dinner: 200 ml – 250 ml formula

*Note: Quantities vary depending on baby’s needs. Start with a few tablespoons, and then increase quantity as needed. This lends well to babies who are formula fed. (I cannot vouch for moms who breastfeed, as I opted for formula for my kids.) With this approach, formula intake is relatively less than what is recommended in North America; however, the daily addition of yogurt and cheeses are a sufficient substitute.

Feature image: Monkey Business Images / Getty

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