When is my baby ready for solid food? What are the best foods to introduce my baby to solids? Is organic food best for my baby? How small should I cut up a baby’s first solid foods?
Questions, questions questions. As a new mother, where do you start?
Starting your baby on solids too early means you might increase the risk of choking, unnecessary weight gain and bellyaches, but introducing solids too late means you might slow your baby’s growth and encourage an aversion to solid foods, among other conditions. Luckily, doctors have drilled down on the sweet spot that is ‘solid time’.
When your infant is around 4 to 6 months old, you may have your breastfeeding or formula drill down to an art. And soon, your growing baby will begin showing signs and clues that they may be ready for ‘real’ baby food:
- They can sit upright and hold up their head.
- They are curious, looking at everything around them —especially what you're eating.
- They still seem hungry after getting a full day's portion of milk (eight to 10 breastfeedings or about 32 ounces of formula).
Introducing solids can be more about getting your growing baby used to chewing and swallowing food - in addition to nutritional benefit. Outside of an Australian baby formula, whether it is lactose free formula or a goat milk formula, there are a few key food groups to introduce to your baby. As always, consulting with your doctor, maternal nurse, or mother’s group will help you make the best decision, especially bearing in mind testing for allergies. The major allergy culprits can include dairy, eggs, fish, peanuts and tree nuts. In the past, parents have been advised to hold off on exposing babies to these foods, but now doctors recommend introducing them in small portions early, often and in age-appropriate format, which means starting off with purees and soft textures.
Best baby beginning foods:
- Oatmeal, rice, barley
- Sweet potato
- Green beans
- Butternut squash.
Basically, anything that can be easily mushed! Choosing foods that are colourful is a great way to encourage your baby to eat too.
Some other tips for starting your baby on solids?
Feed with a spoon. While it’s tempting to let your baby use their hands to play with food, it’s better to start them off with age appropriate cutlery so that they learn good habits early. Soon they’ll be taking over the steering wheel. There’s plenty of colourful, safe early food sets available too - we love everything from Nordlife.
Start slowly. When introducing solids, it’s best to start with a half spoonful. Encouraging prompts like tasting the food yourself as an example, the classic ‘aeroplane’ and describing flavours like ‘yummy’ will ease your baby into feeling comfortable with their new feeding routine.
To help your baby get used to the idea of swallowing solids, many mothers start mealtime with a little breast milk or formula, then offer some food (a half teaspoon at a time), and finish off with more breast milk or formula. What is the best infant formula alongside introducing your baby to solids? It really depends on the feedback you’re receiving from your baby - if they are having digestive issues or appear to have a lactose intolerance - then perhaps switching to a Goat & Sheep Milk infant formula like Shegoa is the right choice for you.
Always remember that practice makes perfect. Your baby may reject the idea of solids initially, or inconsistently want to feed and not feed - this is normal. Trust the process. You might start with one solid meal a day, and then slowly progress to 2 or 3. The morning is a good place to start because this is when babies are usually most hungry. Good things take time.
Try new foods more than once. Just like ourselves, a baby’s tastes will evolve, so you may need to try a particular food group several times before your baby actually likes it. Try mixing flavours together too, if you want to introduce a particular ingredient (like veggies).
Stick with the same food for three days before trying another one. Not only will you understand whether your baby is just having an off day or if it really doesn’t like a particular food, but it also makes it easy to track whether your baby is allergic to a particular food.
Try foods in different forms. If your baby doesn’t like pureed food, try it mashed. It’s important to remember that your baby is learning about new textures as well as new tastes. It may be a case of trial and error until you find what works.
The journey to solids is long, (literally messy), and can be challenging - but it’s rewarding. Seeing your baby progress and enjoy new foods, textures and flavours is a memorable experience for the whole family.
What have you found has worked when introducing your baby to solids? We’d love to know. Send us a DM at @shegoa_au and we’ll feature your response on our stories.