Is your little one ready to start solids but you don't know where to start?Follow these tips and get your little one off to a great start.
When should I introduce solid foods to my baby's diet?
Most paediatricians agree that the time to begin weaning your little one onto a diet of milk and complementary solid foods, is usually around six months old. The World Health Organisation recommend exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months and then introducing solid foods after that time.
Research shows that at around the age of 6 months, a baby's need for energy and nutrients starts to exceed what is provided by breast milk (or formula replacement), and the introduction of solid foods are therefore necessary to meet those needs. Babies of this age usually start to show signs of food readiness as well. These signs that your baby is ready to start solids include sitting with support and having good head control, watching others eat, opening their mouth when food is offered, and reaching out to grab food and spoons from others.
If you have a baby born prematurely or if you are unsure when is the right time for your baby, talk to your child's paediatrician or your local Child Health Nurse.
Where do I begin with introducing solid foods?
The Royal Children's Hospital of Victoria suggest to start with infant cereals (with added iron), vegetables, fruit, meat, chicken, fish, cooked tofu and legumes. They also recommend that you start introducing 1 or 2 foods at a time so your baby can learn about the flavour and texture of each new food.
To begin, make sure your baby is sitting comfortably in a high chair or baby seat or even on a parent's knee, and is not too hungry or too full from their milk feed. Also pick your moment when they are not distressed by anything already. Then start by offering a teaspoon of food between milk feeds. Increase the number of meals offered each day once baby eats 2–3 tablespoons at a time.
How often should I feed my baby?
It is recommended that babies start receiving solid food initially 2-3 times a day from 6-8 months, increasing to 3-4 times daily between 9-11 months and 12-24 months with additional nutritious snacks offered 1-2 times per day.
What should I feed them?
Families usually begin by serving babies aged 6-12 months infant cereals (with added iron), vegetables, fruit, meat, chicken, fish and legumes. Royal Children's Hospital of Victoria suggests they can also eat egg, bread, pasta, rice, nut pastes, and full fat dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt. Go here for more information on introducing allergens.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia recommends that toddlers aged 1-3 years should have 2-3 serves of vegetables and half a serve of fruit each day.
What texture should the food be?
The NHMRC recommends that all solid foods introduced to your little one should be of an appropriate texture. This will change as they move through different developmental stages. Starting with pureed food and moving to lumpy and then normal textures during the 6-12 month period. The Babycook can help you prepare food for your baby and cater for all developmental stages of feeding.
It is very common for babies to refuse new foods when first offered, or to spit it straight back out. Often it takes a few mouthfuls of trying a new flavour and texture before they begin to accept it. They may also refuse one time, but like it the next time it is offered.
Remember to be patient and plan ahead when introducing solids. Follow their cues - increase the variety and amount of foods when they are ready and stop feeding your baby if they are full or upset. A baby often turns their head to the side to tell you they don't want anymore. Lastly, try not to worry about getting dirty, all babies make a mess while they are learning to eat.
For tips and recipes when you are ready to start solids, check out some for your baby here:
Recipes for Ages 4 - 8 Months
Recipes for Ages 8 - 12 Months
Recipes for Ages 12 - 24 Months