Introducing solids to a baby is a big job, but it should be a rewarding stage as your baby discovers the wonderful world of food. We’re here to offer some practical tips about starting solids, answering those niggling questions you might have. Like, when to start solids - is 4 months ok, or should you wait until they’re 5 or 6 months? What are the signs that your baby’s ready (even if you aren’t!)? How do you introduce solids, what equipment is necessary, and what are the best foods to start baby on? Are you trying to decide between offering purees or finger foods when it comes to first food for babies?
There’s a lot to fit into a baby’s day, so it’s key to implement a starting solids routine. The important thing to remember is that every baby is different. Follow your instincts, and discover what works for you and your baby. Here’s our guide to get you on your way to raising a happy and healthy eater.
We like to keep things simple at Food Babies Love, and recommend a good high chair that is easy to clean, a feeding smock and quality plastic bib, and a few kitchen essentials. You don’t need to spend lots of money on big kitchen gadgets; a simple stick blender will do just fine. We also recommend a good vegetable peeler and a grater that’s not rusty. A good microwave- safe jug with a lid is also handy. You will need lots of food storage containers for freezing all of your beautiful cooking in small portions.
There’s lots of talk about skipping purees and going straight to texture or even finger food (Baby Led Weaning).
Our opinion is that smooth purees are fine for a few weeks, but it’s important to start to transition from puree to textured baby food by about 6-7 months of age. Like so many parenting challenges, do what you are comfortable with.
We don’t believe there are any rights or wrongs but start slowly, beware of choking, and never leave your baby unsupervised while they’re learning how to eat textured food.
It’s basically an approach to weaning a baby onto solids where you bypass the puree and spoon stage, and you instead offer your baby food from your plate, and they suck on it and play with it.
Common concerns include risk of choking, the mess (it’s a very messy business so be prepared if you choose this path), and whether or not the nutritional needs of the baby are being met.
There’s more information on baby led weaning pros and cons, combining baby led weaning and purees, and our opinion on it in this blog post.
Your baby’s regular milk (breast or formula) must remain their primary source of nutrition until 12 months of age.
If you notice your baby is not drinking enough milk after starting solids, then you may need to offer smaller serves at meal times. From 6 months to 12 months their milk volumes will gradually decrease with some feeds dropping all together. They should be consuming between 500ml and 600ml per day at this stage.
There may be a couple of reasons they appear not to be interested. One is simply because they are not ready. If this is your gut feeling and they are still not yets 6 months old, then it’s fine to pause for a week or two and try again later.
If they are just showing the very common signs of minimal interest, then don’t give up! Persistence and timing is the key. There is no point in offering food to a baby if they’re overtired or not hungry. Try before their milk feed and when they first wake up.
Also remember that it takes up to 10-15 exposures to a new food for children to decide if they like something or not. So don’t assume that because they turned their nose up at pumpkin, they don’t like it, and that they’re a ‘fussy eater’. Keep trying, and mix up how you prepare the food. For example, try pumpkin pureed, mashed, roasted, hot or cold, mixed into lentils, roasted, or in risotto., etc.
Water. Water. Water. Do not give your toddler juice, cordial, or soft drink. This is completely unnecessary, is a major cause of paediatric dental decay, and will impact their beverage choices for the rest of their life. Water and milk are all they need. We feel really passionate about this! It’s such an easy one to get right and so many parents muck it up.
Offer water with every meal and in between milk feeds, and food just as you would require throughout the course of a day.
‘Fussy eater’ is a commonly used term to describe a child who is simply asserting their independence. In most cases it’s a behaviour and definitely not a disease. Of course there are some real cases of serious food aversions and sensory issues, but I am referring to the majority.
If you think your baby is becoming a picky eater, the most important thing is to never offer choices. If your child doesn’t want to eat what you serve them, don’t make a fuss, simply take the meal away and move on. Yes they may go hungry, yes there may be tears, but if you start to prepare another meal or offer them favourites, they will quickly learn that their behaviour is rewarded with what they want. This can become a battle of wills but a few nights off to bed with no food, and they will quickly realise they need to eat what is offered.
As parents, sometimes we need to take a brave pill to be ok with this but trust me, it works. Your job is to provide a balanced nutritious diet, and then let them decide how much of it they eat. Don’t give in to the nagging for the honey sandwich or whatever it may be. Remember, kids won’t starve themselves.
You may like to talk one on one to Emily about your specific situation – you can do this through booking a Consultation with her.
To make mealtimes fun for babies, and stress-free for you, it’s essential that you set clear parameters and boundaries around mealtimes from the outset, and stick to them:
Every baby is different so be guided by them a little. Remember that their tummy is no bigger than their fist, so if you have a baby who could happily keep eating and eating and eating, then put the brakes on. Also if their milk intake is dropping significantly, reduce their baby food portions. Babies will usually tell you when they have had enough by turning their head away or arching their back.