Introducing solids to bub’s diet can be a daunting task for any new parent. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on how and when you should start feeding your baby something else aside from milk.
This guide tackles frequently asked questions about introducing solids the right way, as recommended by nutritionist Leanne Cooper.
When should I start?
It’s recommended you start introducing solids between four and six months, when your baby’s digestive system is fully developed to cope with solids.
While there’s no rush, leaving the introduction of solid foods too late can impair the nutritional status of your bub.
What signs should I watch out for?
There’s a few telltale signs that indicate your bub is ready for solids. These can be as simple as bub’s birth weight doubling, he or she can sit unaided, head movements are controlled and they can grab objects.
You might notice a change in their feeding and mouth motions. For example, they might start chomping and chewing instead of sucking and their tongue no longer protrudes in readiness for fluids.
Just don’t forget that every bub is different and all babies will develop at their own pace.
How should I prepare the food?
For babies, solid food can be a shock to the senses. After all, it tastes, feels and looks very different from milk.
To ease your little one into it, start by feeding them smooth pastes. Make sure all food is pureed into a liquid paste resembling runny yoghurt, using breastmilk or formula to thin the food.
As baby develops their chewing ability, you can progress onto soft mashed foods and eventually to coarse and finger foods. Always introduce new foods one by one and take your time.
Which food(s) should I introduce first?
Always select clean, organic foods that are high in energy, good fats and essential nutrients, such as avocado and sweet potato. No salt, sugar or flavourings are needed. While babies have an innate preference for sweet foods, such as fruits, use these in moderation.
Keep in mind that fluids(breast milk/formula or water) should be included with every meal to meet your bub’s increased needs. Baby’s kidneys are not as adept as adults in processing food and hence need a little fluid to avoid getting constipated.
How much food can I give bub?
At first, most babies consume a very small amount of food. Think a teaspoon or so. Later on, you can gradually increase this to one or two tablespoons, and then onto a ¼ of a cup and so on.
Food rejection is common, but don’t let that discourage you. Many studies show it can sometimes take up 10 attempts at introducing a new food before your bub accepts and enjoys it. Perseverance is key.
About the author: nutritionist Leanne Cooper
Leanne Cooper is Director of the leading Health Coaching College Cadence Institute of Nutrition & Health Coaching, and is a registered nutritionist and mother of two boys.