The process of introducing solid foods, also called weaning, can take many weeks, usually starting when the baby is around 6 months. Entering the solid foods phase can be a bit tricky for parents because many kids are used to the taste and texture of milk and nervous about new things. However, if you take the right approach and have some patience, you and your little one can have a lot of fun exploring new experiences together! So keep reading and learn everything you need to know about the best first foods for baby and how to introduce them.
Is he ready for it?
One of the most important factors that can make solid foods either a fun or terrible experience for you and your munchkin is whether or not he is actually ready for this big step. Many are ready for their first baby foods by 5 months, but some little ones just need a little extra time. In any case, weaning should be started by the time baby is 6 months old. Here are a few key indicators that could tell you he’s ready:
- His hand-eye coordination is developed enough that he can pick up objects and bring them to his own mouth.
- He can stay in a seated position on his own while holding his own head.
- He can successfully use his tongue to swallow food. You won’t know this until you try it, but if he’s not ready, most of the food will come out of his mouth instead of going down his throat.
If you’re still unsure, you can always ask your paediatrician if your little guy looks ready for his first baby foods.
Know what’s good and what’s not
Another issue that can affect the success of introducing solids is what you feed him. The best first foods for baby are grains and fruits. In the beginning you don’t need to worry too much about the quantity that he’s eating, but rather the kinds of foods you try to feed him. This step can be a difficult one for many kids, and sticking to basic, simple solutions is usually the best bet. Here are some of the best first foods for baby:
- Baby rice
- Baby cereals
- Follow on formula
- Apple puree or juice
- Pear puree or juice
- Sweet potato puree
- Carrot puree
- Mashed banana
- Mashed avocado
- Peach puree
Remember that introducing solid foods doesn’t mean that you should decrease the amount of breast milk or formula that you provide. He still needs all the vitamins, minerals, and calories from the milk. There are also several foods that you should avoid giving him when you are first introducing solid foods, such as:
- Cow’s milk (until after 1 year)
- Products that contain gluten
- Nuts, peanuts, or seeds
- Fish or shellfish
- More acidic fruits
- Berries or tropical fruits
Don’t leave out the fruit!
Some kids have an easier time accepting grains like rice into their diets, partly because they can easily be mixed with formula. However, even if your little one doesn’t like fruit in the beginning, you can’t give up on it – it’s one of the most important and best first foods for baby! Adding fruits to the diet is very important because they provide babies with lots of essential minerals, vitamins, and fibre that they will need as they gradually decrease the amount of milk they consume.
If you’ve got a picky eater…
If the first foods for baby aren’t going over very well, don’t fret and don’t give up. One of the worst things to do is get exasperated because it can make your little one very nervous, making him more likely to reject more foods in the future. Consider it a test of your patience and keep trying—but don’t force the food into his mouth! You shouldn’t try to put the spoon in his mouth until he has opened up for you. Here are a few more tips and tricks you can try if your baby just isn’t enjoying his food:
- If he rejected puree, try juice. Likewise, if he rejected juice, try purees. Try to pay attention to your baby’s preferences.
- Try making purees with a base of breast milk or formula—this is a flavour that he is used to!
- Make sure to give him the food at the same temperature that you have always given him milk.
- Start with a puree or juice made of just one type of fruit. This can help him get used to one new flavour at a time.
- Try to make it a game! Remember the classic ‘look at the airplane?’ It’s a tried and true method for making eating a little more fun. You can also let your baby hold onto his own spoon, which could make him feel more like mummy and daddy.
Besides, if none of these work for you, there’s always the option of baby led weaning, a weaning method that skips the puree stage completely and allows the baby to feed himself with soft chunks of food.
It takes time
Introducing the first foods for baby isn’t something that you can do overnight, even if your little one is eager and excited to try new things. His digestive system has to get used to handling new substances and you have to do this little by little over the course of several months. Here is a very simple guideline of timing that you should consider following:
- 6 – 8 months – Start mixing grains into milk and introduce just a few teaspoons of a single fruit puree or juice. Try out different fruits, but sweet and mild ones are best in the beginning. Eventually you can mix together different fruits. You can then move on to vegetable purees.
- 8 – 10 months – Let him start holding his own spoon if he wants to, with your guiding hand their to help him. Purees or juices may still be your go-to options, but you can start introducing softer foods like ripe bananas. You may also want to try yogurts or soft cookies that he can mush up in his mouth. The more nutrition he gets from solids, the less milk he’ll need to drink.
- 10 – 12 months – By now you will probably be relying more and more on solids to meet nutritional needs, but don’t eliminate the milk yet. You can also try out breads or pastas, and even soft meats.
- 12 months + - Your baby should be able to chew and swallow softer foods, including meats. Now you can start trying out things like cow’s milk as well.
There is a lot to keep in mind when figuring out the first foods for baby. The best thing to do is pay attention to your little guy—know when he’s ready and try to figure out why he likes what he likes and dislikes what he dislikes. If you can work around these things, be patient, and try to have fun, moving onto solid foods can be an enjoyable bonding experience. You’ll get to watch all the moments of surprise and excitement as your little one discovers new textures and flavours!