My experience of introducing Solids
My baby (who is not so much a baby anymore!) is 8 months old now, and we have come a long way since being attached to the boob in those newborn months! So many of the questions I get asked on the website and my socials is about weaning and introducing solids, so from Mumma to Mumma I have written a little about it given I have just gone through it and have a background in nutrition.
First 6 months:
I personally breastfed exclusively till 6 months. The advice is to start introducing solids anywhere from 4-6 months, while the World Health Organisation say to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. If you are unable to breastfeed or need to supplement, then your baby would be bottle fed with formula for the same amount of time. If this is the case, the formula I recommend would be Oli6 Goat’s Milk Formula as it is closer in composition to breast milk and is a natural formula that relies on the benefits of goat’s milk (making it much higher in Oligosaccharides, a natural prebiotic great for gut health and also making it easier to digest - you can read more about the benefits of goat’s milk here)
I personally didn’t find Jax was ready to start solids until just past 6 months, I first offered him some food around 5 months but he showed no interest and would spit it out (this is a normal reflex). I offered him a very small spoonful of pureed sweet potato or brown rice cereal made with my breast milk every couple of days until I noticed he was slightly interested and showing signs of swallowing. If your baby is over 4 months old and showing signs of wanting food then you could start to offer some.
What are the signs you ask?
- Head control, holding their head well by them selves
- Being able to sit upright
- Showing an interest in food and watching you or your family eat
- If your baby seems hungry on top of the 6-8 milk feeds they have a day.
- If they have lost the tongue-thrust reflex and no longer automatically spit solids out of their mouth with their tongue.
- Is ready and willing to start to chew.
- Developing a grasp, where they can pick up food or other objects
- Baby is eager to participate in mealtime and may try to grab food and put it in his mouth.
- Baby opens their mouth when you offer food and are able to move it to the back of their mouth to swallow
What are good first foods to offer?
Simple foods, that are easy to digest. Including:
- Pureed sweet potato or potato
- Pureed carrot
- Baby rice cereal with added iron (breast milk is low in iron, so this is a good option). I suggest to make it up with your breast milk or formula to start with, as it gives them a familiar taste.
- Mashed banana
- Pureed pumpkin
- Pureed apple
- Pureed zucchini
Hints for starting:
- Start with literally one spoonful of food for one meal a day. Once they start to swallow it, you can start to slowly increase how much you make and offer every couple of days.
- Offer one meal a day, then when they have been enjoying it for a few week or so, you can offer 2 meals, then within 2-4 weeks ( or when they seem ready) you could offer 3 meals.
- Try one new food every 3-4 days. This is so that if your baby is intolerant or sensitive to a food it will show and you will know what food it is causing the problem. I.e. constipation, rash, runs, upset tummy, wind , etc.
- Slow and steady wins the race, feed them slowly and give them time to experience each spoonful and swallow it properly before the next spoonful. Some babies love food and some are more difficult. Jax is the slowest eater! But one of his little friends inhales it. They are all different!!
- Don’t stress if they don’t like it – it’s more about introducing new textures and tastes than it is about quantity. One good thing I heard along the way was that; food before the age of one is mostly for fun!! Their main source of nutrition is their milk. That is as long as your baby is continuing to grow and develop as they should
- If they don’t like what you made, you can offer something different. If Jax doesn’t like something I made and doesn’t eat much, ill follow it up with some yoghurt or fruit, as I know he loves it.
- Make it fun! Sing to them, and smile/laugh with them when they are eating
- It’s messy, so just get over that! Have some cloths ready to clean up
- Some babies are good eaters and some are fussy. Be patient!
- Learn the difference between gagging and choking, and what to do in both situations. Do a first aid course and some good research so you feel prepared for any situation. Most babies gag when they are learning how to swallow and mastering the movements of the tongue. Jax is still gagging every now and then!
- Offer water with each meal
- Always sit down with your baby and watch them as they learn to eat so you can be on top of how they are going and if they have bitten off more than they can chew. Literally!!
- There is no one way to introduce solids! You might want to do purees, soft whole foods or a mixture of both. Do you own research and decide what’s best for your baby. Deakin offer a great free online short course called Infant Nutrition
- Personally, at the beginning of solids I liked to offer a combination of some mashed/pureed food, and some soft whole foods. I feed him the mashed food, and put the very soft whole foods on his high chair for him to be able to try feed him self. By soft whole foods I mean: well steamed veggies like carrots, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, avocado strips, pumpkin, finger fruit, strawberries, tiny bits of fish or chicken (when they are ready), bits of egg or cheese (once introduced)
- Add water to their food if they keep gagging, this will make it less dry and easier for them to swallow
- I don't always offer/challenge him with finger food. If he is tired or fussy (sometimes for the last feed of the day) I will just feed him and try keep him happy
- Hold a toy or object above their head if you need them to look up!
- It’s alllll about experimenting!
- Babies tend to turn their head away or start to fuss when they are full
- Lastly, make sure you praise them when they do eat well!
What did I feed Jax a day?
For breakfast I make him up some brown rice porridge, oats or wheetbix/vita brix made up with a small bit of smashed fruit (changing the fruit daily)
I also offer some finger fruit for him to learn to feed himself
For lunch and dinner what I did is (now he is older his meals are different, but thats a post for another day!) : every 2 or 3 days I made a batch of food. I did this by cooking/steaming and blending 2-3 different veggies + and a cooked carbohydrate source (sweet or regular potato, brown rice, wholemeal pasta)
I use this as a base and then simply added in bits of what I make for my own healthy meals each day. So I might add in a tiny bit of mashed or blended: egg, avocado, tuna, chicken, chickpeas, cheese, rice, lamb, tomato, yoghurt, salmon, Bolognese, casseroles etc.
As mentioned above, I make and feed him a small meal and then put some soft foods on his plate to try feed himself. This also keeps him amused!
This is a potato, broccoli, tuna and cheese mash, well steamed carrot stick and broccoli a strawberry and some water. He won’t eat all of the solid foods but will take a few bites on his own. Note - the coffee is for mumma! Also note, some people like to cut the finger food into smaller pieces. I started with bigger as it was easier for him to grab.. trial and error
Do I still offer milk feeds?
Yes, it is really important that breast milk or formula remains a big part of the diet until at least 12 months of age. Both provide important nutrients and vitamins in a form that your baby is used to digesting. I am still offering a breastfeed at 7am, 10 or 11am, 2 or 3pm, and 6:30pm (plus an overnight feed if required).
Hope this helps! And good luck with this new chapter of FOOD! xx