Just when you think you’ve got it all under control and breastfeeding is well established or baby takes a bottle with daddy too –
*wipes brow with relief while startling out the door, whoever said pump and dump?*
Suddenly you’re in the dark and faced with the unknown again.
I’m talking about baby food. And if the very thought of those words scares you, I can tell you, you’re not alone.
I was there too – hell I still am! And who can blame us, there’s mix matched information everywhere on what to introduce, when to introduce and just about how to introduce!
(Thank goodness that part is pretty simple, unless your baby is like mine and wants to grab the spoon and feed herself every five seconds…)
As a fellow mum myself, I more than understand how daunting it can all be and that’s why I decided to write this article.
We will be covering together the following:
- Is there a perfect age for introducing solids?
- How can I tell if baby is ready for solids?
- How do I know if baby likes what I’m offering?
- What do I do if baby refuses to eat?
- What moments are best for trying to offer baby?
- Examples of good first foods for baby
Ok, without further ado, let’s take a deep breath and dive in!
IS THERE A PERFECT AGE FOR INTRODUCING SOLIDS?
I know there’s conflicting information all over the web about starting at four months versus six months.
Unfortunately here I’m not going to tell you to do either or. Now, I do know that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization haven’t budged when they recommend the 6 month mark.
Recent studies have suggested that from as early as 4 months you can start.
Here’s the thing and it’s nothing new I’m about to say: babies grow at different rates.
Well, duh! No but seriously, what works for one might not for another. Where one baby is happily eating away at his mashed carrots, (more on that later…) another is spitting it out.
So my advice is to take it as it goes, try a little if baby and you are ready, give it a go. If it doesn’t work, you can try again later in a week or so. Not that bad, right?
But how do I know I hear you cry. And that brings us on to the next point.
HOW TO TELL IF BABY IF READY FOR SOLIDS?
I’m going to say something that might surprise you.
You’ll probably know when it’s time because your baby will be the one to let you know.
A baby who’s ready for solids will act in a certain way and show, fortunately for us, pretty easy signs to follow:
- Baby is taking way more interest in what you’re eating – I’m talking reaching for your spoon not just as a game and watching intensely as you put it in your mouth
- Baby has good neck control and can sit up – ok my baby didn’t know how to sit up completely but followed the first sign so I tried anyway
- Baby is teething and needs something to chew on – sometimes when their teeth start poking out early on, solid foods can help them
- Doesn’t just spit it out if you try and give it to them
Trust your mother hen instincts and go with it!
HOW DO I KNOW IF BABY LIKES WHAT I’M OFFERING?
Most babies are talkers. At least mine likes to have a good natter and give me feedback.
Your mother bond is already there anyway, chances are you know your baby better than anyone. Even if your baby doesn’t talk back to you – he’ll still give you feedback in some way!
Don’t be scared of a grimace from time to time or if your baby looks unsure – this is completely normal!
Your baby’s world is changing and so is her palette so be gentle with her and don’t make a judgement too soon.
The first time you give her something you’ll probably see a face staring back at you absolutely disgusted as if to say:
‘Mother what is this??’
Again completely normal. The second day will be better, and the third and so on…
And if it’s not, don’t fret! Just try another flavour and see how that goes.
Baby food is a lot down to testing and improvising with what baby likes.
If you get delightful cooing in return, you’re doing a good job.
WHAT DO I DO IF BABY REFUSES TO EAT?
I’m going to cover this one a little more briefly as I don’t claim to have the most expertise on the matter but I’m just going to say this:
Your baby is getting used to new sounds, touch and tastes every day.
Sometimes baby will feel a bit overwhelmed and not really feel up to it. Don’t try and force it every day in the beginning, go with how baby feels.
Some factors that might help you are:
- Try and offer baby food in the same place every day – baby might be refusing because she is too distracted by new surroundings
- Try and give it a break and come back to it another day – she may be tired, or her teeth are sore
- Give baby food at the most awake part of her day and not when she’s overly tired as she might just get fussy
If you think your baby could have a good allergy, consult your pediatrician or visit here.
WHAT TIME IS IT BEST TO TRY NEW FOODS?
A cranky baby is a fussy baby and a fussy baby is not gonna want to faf around with new flavours and textures.
It sounds simple when I put it like that but we all know it’s true.
Having said that, every baby has their most awake parts of the day.
Hopefully you’ve passed the witching hour phrase (hurrah!) in which case even early evening is a good time but most babies do well around lunch time for example 12pm.
Babies like to imitate us parents so they are more likely to eat when we do which is why giving them something to eat while we’re at the table too can be a good idea.
In the beginning you can start with just a few spoonfuls to taste at lunchtime and increase to another during the early evening as baby gets used to it.
The important thing to remember is that milk, whether breast or formula, is still the main nutrition for your baby so don’t pull your hair out too much about the details and make sure that she is still getting her consistent meal times.
GOOD FOODS TO START WITH
When it comes to this new experience in baby life, the key is to keep it simple.
Most sources will tell you to get going with rice cereals, I personally find oats easier to make as I make them already for myself every morning. So I’ll just heat a little water, add in the oats and quickly blitz it in my blender.
You can also offer fruit and vegetables, particularly those that don’t have such a strong taste or in the case of fruits, don’t have too much sugar.
As time goes on you can introduce different flavours and eventually mix two or three together, here is a quick list of ideas:
- Rice or oat baby cereal
- Fruits – apple, pear, banana work well – obviously in pureed form as juices are too sugary for young babies
- Vegetables – green beans or peas, carrots or sweet potato for a sweeter taste
What you can try doing if your baby finds vegetables too bitter is add a little breast milk or formula to sweeten.
Well, I hope I’ve covered some of the basics here, do let me know if you think I’ve missed anything by leaving me a comment below!