Tips for starting baby on solids

Oh, baby! Why do you have to grow so quickly? As a mum, it feels like each week brings a new milestone – and starting baby on solids is a huge one. If you’re concerned about natural and organic baby care, introducing delicious and wholesome foods to your little one just makes sense – and hopefully sets them up for a lifetime of nutritious eating. But how do you know when to start solids? Read our helpful tips to guide you through this exciting time!

How starting baby on solids helps with development

For around the first 6 months of a baby’s life, they can rely solely on breast milk or formula to provide all the nutrients they need. However, after this point, babies no longer get enough iron through milk. Starting solids becomes crucial in making sure they get a good supply of vitamins and minerals so that they continue growing and thriving. Learning to chew is also an important stepping stone to language development.

Signs of readiness

Most babies will start showing signs they are ready to begin eating solids at around 4 to 6 months. It’s not recommended to begin solids before 4 months.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Baby should have good head and neck control and be able to sit upright with minimal assistance. If they can comfortably sit in a highchair, this is a good sign.
  • Baby shows interest in your food and reaches for what you’re eating
  • Baby should have lost the tongue-thrust reflex which is designed to automatically push food out of the mouth
  • Baby is beginning to develop a ‘pincer grip’ which will assist with holding finger foods
  • Baby should willingly open their mouth when offered food on a spoon

Foods to try

So you’ve observed some or all of the above signs and it looks like your little one is keen to get in on the dinner time action! It’s a great idea to offer as many different foods with varying flavours and textures as you can. Remember that this is all completely new for your bub and so a little initial resistance is to be expected. But keep offering small amounts of food each day and you will soon find your baby develops their favourites. And remember, babies must be supervised at all times while eating.

One to two teaspoons is all that’s required in the early stages as you’ll continue to breast or bottle feed. By the age of 12 months, it’s expected that your baby will be enjoying 3 small meals a day along with their bottle or breastfeeds. It’s normal for these breast or bottle feeds to slowly reduce in frequency and/or amount as your baby eats more food.

Here are some great first foods to try – and remember to include iron-rich foods as much as possible.

  • Iron-fortified rice cereal
  • cooked and mashed egg
  • minced meat, chicken or fish
  • cooked and mashed vegetables like carrot, potato and broccoli
  • mashed banana and avocado
  • stewed and mashed fruits
  • yoghurt

As your baby becomes accustomed to a variety of different tastes and textures, you can begin to mash up some of what you’re having for dinner. You don’t have to stick with single foods – mix it up to give baby new and exciting flavour combinations. If you’re making roasted veggies and meats, blend some up for baby to make a delicious alternative. You can find some fabulous recipe ideas at Little Mashies and Annabel Karmel.

Foods to avoid

There are some foods that are not safe for a baby as they present a choking hazard. All food should be soft enough to mash with your thumb.

For the first year at least, avoid the following foods:

  • hard foods like apple pieces and raw carrot sticks
  • whole grapes
  • popcorn
  • nuts
  • cow’s milk (stick with breast milk or formula for the first 12 months)
  • honey

What about allergies?

If your baby suffers from eczema or other allergies, it is more likely that they will develop a food allergy or sensitivity. We recommend seeing your GP or paediatrician to decide on the best approach to introducing solids for your precious bub.

Eating when out and about

Batch cooking delicious mashes for your baby is a great idea as it’s economical, saves you time and maximises the nutritional value. We recommend storing your pre-prepared baby food in reusable, BPA-free pouches like these ones from Little Mashies. They’re super convenient and eco-friendly, too!

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