The process of starting solid food with your baby is an exciting but difficult stage in their young lives. With the huge amount of choice of foods and the different advice you’ll receive from everyone, it can be difficult choosing what to give your baby.But don't worry, we’re sharing our hints and tips on making the move to solid food to make your life a little easier. We’re looking at how and when you should introduce solids along with what not to do. Here are our tips on introducing solid foods to your baby - weaning:
When should I start introducing solid foods?
It’s recommended you wait until your baby is at least six months before feeding them solid food. This is advised by the WHO (World Health Organisation). They state that at 6 months, your baby’s tongue and digestive system should be able to cope with solids as well as milk and formula. Even if a baby is big for their age, it’s recommended you wait until the six-month point to ensure they’re completely ready. As well as being 6 months old, your baby should be able to
- sit up independently
- hold up their head
- be able to pick up small items such as food
- and be able to swallow food.
Obviously, you’ll have to check to see whether they can swallow food. If you don’t think they’re ready, wait to begin. If you’re not sure whether they’re ready, check with your baby’s pediatrician or a medical practitioner. They will be able to advise you based on your baby.
How should I start introducing solid food?
Start by introducing small quantities of solid foods whilst continuing to provide their breast milk or formula. This will help them get used to the concept of eating rather than eating for nutrition. Try solids after or during their usual feed, preferably around mealtime.
Show them how to eat their food and encourage them to feed themselves with finger foods.
Let them eat at their own speed and get used to the mechanics of eating and the different flavors.
Make sure they’re sat up straight in a seated position. This can help prevent choking and gets them used to their regular meal times. Once you’ve started to introducing solid foods, try to stick to something new every few days. This will give you plenty of time to see if your baby develops any allergies and easily figure out what the reaction is to. During the early meals, remove any distractions and try to keep them focused on eating rather than anything else. It will slowly become second nature to the baby but will take a great deal of patience, especially in the early days.
Choose a place that’s easy to clean for the first meals. It’s likely going to be pretty messy at first.
What kinds of foods can I start with?
Although there’s no right answer for what you should begin with, it’s common to start by giving your baby pureed and mashed fruit and cooked vegetables. You could also try them on baby rice with breast milk. As we discussed, continue to provide breast milk or formula at this point. Finger foods can also work well such as soft fruits like bananas. Some parents choose to give their babies prepared food from jars for ease. These can be a great source of subsistence, however, you must look into the ingredients to ensure they’re suitable.
Once they’re used to these kinds of foods, you can begin to introduce a wider variety. Meat and fish, pasta, eggs and yoghurt are common choices for those second steps.
After a while, try to encourage your child to begin to drink a small amount of water. They will receive all the hydration they need from the milk but it’s a good habit to encourage while they're young.
There are some great baby food recipe ideas on our recipe pages!
What foods should I avoid?
Don’t give your baby anything that would be easy to choke on.
Avoid small, hard and lumpy food.
Avoid foods and drinks that are excessively sweet, salty or generally unnatural, especially when a child is very young.
If there’s a severe allergy in the immediate family, avoid this food until you have spoken to your pediatrician. Some reactions can be passed on, especially when they’re severe. Nuts, eggs, milk, and fish are all common allergies so be careful with these foods.
How to keep your child safe
When your child first tries different foods, observe them for any signs of an allergy. Typical signs can include vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, rashes, hives and, in extreme cases anaphylactic shock. Immediately contact your pediatrician if any of these occur. If you suspect they’re entering anaphylactic, call the emergency services straight away.
No matter how confident you are with your baby’s ability to feed themselves, you should never leave them alone whilst they eat. This can put them at risk of choking. Always watch them!
What should I avoid?
Avoid too much salt and sugar - 99% of children will love sweet and salty foods but you should avoid feeding too much. If they get used to these flavors, they can become more picky with their food, only eating these types of dishes.
Don’t stick to what they like- It’s thought that it can take babies around ten attempts with food before they’ll like it. Keep trying them, even if they don’t seem to like them. They’ll likely come around in time.
Don’t spoon-feed your baby for too long- Let them feed themselves as much as possible. If not, they can become reliant on being fed rather than doing it themselves. Encourage the baby to feed themselves using doddl’s baby utensils by showing them how to use them.
Don’t be put off by teething- When your baby is teething, they may lose their appetite due to their discomfort. Persevere through this and keep trying them with different foods. They may also lose interest when they begin to crawl and walk. Again, keep trying to avoid this distraction.
Don’t feed directly from the storage container - Whether you feed from jars or containers, avoid spooning directly from the source. Their saliva can make the food go off. Use small bowls or containers and dispose of any leftover food that the food has touched.
Don’t feed your baby before you wash your hands - This can pass on bacteria so make sure your hands are clean.
Don’t overfeed your baby - Babies have little stomachs! Avoid overfeeding by looking for signs they’re full like turning away, holding the spoon, etc. They don’t need to eat large portions, especially when they’re young.