So you’re starting to get the hang of life with a young baby, things all seem to be falling in to place and then your Maternal Child Health nurse tells you that it’s time to start solids. Some parents find this an exciting time but others are left feeling overwhelmed and in some cases anxious.
When do I start?
Depending on what the latest research is at the time, your child should start solids between 4-6months, (my three have all started at 6 months.)
Before starting solids, your child should,
- Have a strong neck
- Be able to sit up and hold their head up
- Show an interest in food, (watches others eat, opens mouth when offering food, reaches out to food.)
How do I introduce solids to my baby?
There are two ways of introducing solids, Baby Led Weaning and the old school way of Puree meals.
Introducing solids the old fashioned way
When introducing babies to solids the old-fashioned way, it’s quite popular to introduce iron-fortified infant rice cereal. I recommend adding some pureed pear to the cereal instead of milk as this can help with moving the digestive system which can sometimes get a bit stuck when starting solids.
Offering pureed meals including soft cooked vegetables and stewed or mashed fruit is a great way of introducing solids. The latest research shows that babies can eat any foods once they have started solids provided they are soft or pureed except for honey until 12 months.
Baby Led Weening
Baby-led weaning is my preferred way of introducing foods to babies as it encourages children to explore their food with independence. You basically give them soft foods such as well ripened pears, cooked veggies, soft meat etc and your child will explore the food with all of their senses.
Won’t my baby choke with BLW?
The gag reflex is an amazing function of the human body. It stops food from going down the wrong way so it is very uncommon for a child to choke if they are given soft foods that can be chewed with gums alone or very few teeth.
***Children should never be left unattended when eating***
For more information on choking, check out this link from the wonderful people from Child Revive First Aid.
Are all foods safe to eat?
There are several foods that are a choking risk for children under 2 years.
Foods that should be avoided are raw carrots, uncooked apple, raw nuts, uncut grapes and popcorn.
***Honey should not be offered to children until after 12months as it can cause botulism. ***
What if I have a history of allergies in the family
If you have a family history of allergies, always consult with you family GP, MCHN or Paediatrician before introducing solids.
It is always a good idea to introduce one food at a time and wait 3-7 days before introducing the next type of food in order to see how the child’s body reacts to the food.
Common high allergy foods in babies are acidic foods such as tomatoes, kiwi fruit, strawberries and oranges.
Other foods that are often high risk are dairy, eggs, wheat, legumes and nuts.
Finally, it is important to remember that food before 12 months is more about exploration rather than nutrition. Milk, whether it be breast milk or formula, should be the main source of nutrition during this time.
You may also like to read: