Why I Waited to Feed Twins
I fed my first child when she was just 4 months old, and I’ll be honest it felt too early. Now nearly 4 years later with babies #6 and 7 (boy-girl twins) coming up on 6.5 months, I want to share a little bit about why this time, I waited to feed these two.
Age-Adjusting to the 6-Month Mark
Do any little bit of internet research and it’s easy to find the signs that your baby is ready to eat solid food. Start too early and your baby is at risk of choking and can’t digest food and nutrients from food properly, but wait too long and you may negatively impact growth or increase the risk of picky eating.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend that complementary foods be introduced at around 6 months of age. If your babies were born premature (prior to 38-40 weeks gestation) you may find your babies are more ready to eat when they reach their age-adjusted 6 month mark.
What does age adjusted mean? Don’t worry if you don’t know - it’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get in my baby-led weaning workshops! Here’s how I describe it:
A full term baby will usually be ready to start solids by about 6 months of age
I had baby quadruplets who were born at 34 weeks gestation (6 weeks early)
Instead of starting solids at their 6 month birthday, I waited until they were 6 months + 6 weeks of age
They started solid foods at their 7.5 month birthday, thereby adjusting their age to accommodate for prematurity and some development lagging
For our twins, when they hit the 6 month birthday, they weren’t showing the other signs of readiness to feed, so I decided to wait a bit longer. The twins were born 2 weeks early (at 38 weeks gestation), so we will start solid food when they are 6 months + 2 weeks and see how it goes (also because as you’ll read below, they’re showing other signs of readiness to eat.
One question I get a lot from twin moms is, if you went 38 weeks with twins (which I did) that is considered “full gestation” for a twin pregnancy. While that’s true in some circles, the baby still did not have the max 40 weeks in utero, ours were a tad on the small side (low 6 pounders) and also weren’t showing other signs of readiness to eat.
That’s why we waited. Your twins or singletons or triplets, etc. may be ready to eat sooner or later. Bottom line is, go with your mom gut - there’s nothing “magical” about the 6 month mark but it’s a good starting point, and pre-term babies might do well to wait until their age adjusted 6 month mark.
If you feel like you started feeding your baby too early - you’re not alone. It is estimated that 40% of parents start feeding babies too soon.
Check out this FOX5 San Diego TV segment I did all about “Are You Feeding Your Baby too Soon?” to learn more.
Not Able to Sit with Minimal Assist
Another drawback to starting solid foods for our twins was that at 6 months of age they still weren’t able to sit with minimal assist.
Now your baby doesn’t have to be a sit up straight pro to start solid foods, but a considerable amount of core strength is required to facilitate a safe swallow, so it’s wise to wait until baby can almost sit as one way to help minimize choking risk.
We are big fans of baby-led weaning, which can be scary for parents at first. I think any added layer of safety you can add is always wise, and waiting until baby can sit fairly sure of himself gives me peace of mind.
Still Showing Signs of Tongue Thrust
The tongue thrust reflex (also called the extrusion reflex) is important for younger babies who suck on the bottle or breast and aren’t ready for solid foods yet. As that tongue thrust starts to recede, this is a sign that baby is getting ready to feed.
At around 6 months of age, my babies were still pushing everything I trialed on their tongue out…telling me basically that they weren’t quite ready for food yet.
Minimal Interest in Food
As your baby gets closer to the ready to eat mark, he or she will start showing massive interest in what YOU are eating. Baby starts eyeballing you big time and may mimic chewing movements and reach and grab for your food.
Since our babies were pretty much disinterested in food even past their 6 month birthday mark, I could tell they weren’t super gung ho about getting going on food. But closer to the 6.5 month mark, their interest is piqued, they’re grabbing for food and I can tell they want to eat!
Now Ready for Baby-Led Weaning
At the time of this writing, my twins Gus & Hannah are coming up on 6.5 months old. They’re starting to sit a little more securely, they paw and grab at food I’m trying to eat and they’ve stopped shoving everything out of their mouth by tongue…and in fact are mouthing and putting lots MORE things in their mouth than they should!
I’m starting to sense that they’re ready for solid foods, and so it’s time to start with baby-led weaning. I’ll be sharing the first 100 foods I introduce with baby-led weaning over on a dedicated instagram page @babyledweanteam. Come check it out to follow their first 100 foods, now that these 2 are ready to eat!
If you’re interested in learning more about baby-led weaning, come check out my membership group The Baby-Led Wean Team. It’s a supportive, online community designed to teach you everything you need to know about baby-led weaning. There’s tons of video training, recipes, expert interviews and a really vibrant, interactive community of parents just like YOU who want to give their baby the best start possible to starting solid foods. Check it out here.