Solids…messy times ahead!
Introducing solid food is a time of excitement and experimentation for babies and their parents. Learning the mechanics of taking food from a spoon, chewing and transferring it from the front of the tongue to the back of the mouth and then swallowing takes time and lots of practice. Don’t worry if, at first, all your baby seems to do is spit it out. Not only do babies have more sensitive taste buds than adults, they also have many more. Even the most subtle flavours can seem quite strong to a young baby.
The current recommendation from healthcare professionals is that babies should not be offered solid foods until they are six months of age. Even after solids are introduced, milk still needs to be their predominant source of nutrition in the first twelve months of life. Breastfeeding mothers and their babies still gain significant health benefits by continuing to breastfeed for as long as they are both happy to do so.
From 6-7 months start with:
- Rice cereal mixed with breast milk or cooled boiled water. You can mix a little pureed apple or pear with this to see if it’s more palatable to your baby.
- Pureed or very well mashed vegetables and a range of fruits. Potato, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, zucchini are ideal. Mashed (ripe) banana and avocado are perfect as first foods. When you are making homemade solids, especially vegetables, a Steamer and Blender or Mini Blender can be invaluable in making this process quick and easy.
- Milky solids such as custard and yoghurts. Be careful of sugar content in prepared dairy desserts; it is preferable to buy unsweetened ones and flavour them yourself with a small amount of fruit instead.
From 7-8 months:
- Offer more mashed, rather than finely pureed or sieved foods. Your baby can be having three solid meals each day now. Aim for breakfast, lunch and dinner after their milk feeds.
- Offer a range of cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat and chicken and milky desserts. Two courses at lunch and dinner is common.
- A couple of tablespoons to ½ cup is an ideal volume to be offered at each meal time now.
From 8-12 months
- Foods chopped into small pieces, minced or in finger size are popular with this age group. Self feeding is beginning, so encourage your baby to explore their food and have some control over their meal times. Giving them a spoon to practice with is a good idea.
- Offer a range of fruits, vegetables, meats, cereals, pasta and grains. Your baby’s brain growth at this age is significant and they need lots of iron in their diet to fuel this.
Jane Barry, is a registered nurse, midwife and child health nurse Baby Feeding and Wellbeing Adviser on behalf of Philips AVENT.