Trying your baby with solid food for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. Are they ready for more than milk? What if they choke on their food? What kind of food should I start with? It's enough to make you want to put it off until they have all their (adult) teeth. Thankfully, as always there are some handy guidelines to help you navigate the joyous journey into solids.
Firstly, as with all milestones, every little one develops at their own pace but it is not recommended you attempt solid food before your baby is four months old. You can however start stocking up on adorable little bowls and spoons because on average babies start solids when they are between six to seven months. As long as has good neck control, can sit up when supported and shows signs of interest in food.
How do I know they are interested in food?
By the time you have been looking at your little one for a few months, you usually get to notice little changes in their behaviour. In this case, when they start eyeballing your food when you eat, or reaching out with their little arms and trying to steal it from you. One excellent way to check is if they open their mouth when you offer them a spoon. Choo- Choo here comes the food train!
How much food?
Your baby still has a teeny tiny stomach and one that had so far only been subjected to liquid, so start slow. Try them with one or two teaspoons once a day, if that goes well, increase gradually. Even as their little appetites grow and their preferences change, they still need to have breast milk or formula until they are at least 12 months old.
The most important aspect of early solids is texture. Starting with very smooth, we are talking about pureed fruits or veggies (aim for iron-rich options). Once they get the hang of those, it is time for a range of mashed foods and infant cereals. Finally, introduce finely chopped foods like soft pasta and minced meats. It is still important to give your child a range of textures and flavours….. they will let you know soon enough what they don’t like.
Ok, so food allergies are an additional concern for all parents when introducing solids. However, it has been shown that introducing allergenic food early on can reduce the risk of developing a food allergy. Of course, If you have a history of food allergies or your baby has eczema (or if you are just really nervous about it), check with your GP before introducing foods that are like to cause allergies. These foods include all the usual suspects, eggs, nuts, wheat, and cow’s milk.
Remember always supervise your little ones when they are eating and get ready for a lot of very messy meal times to come. Keep in mind that one day you will miss the joy of having mashed pumpkin in your hair.. well maybe not.