Navigating solids with your bub doesn’t have to be a challenge. With these tips to hand, it can be a positive experience for both of you.
Having so far existed on a diet of breast milk or formula, most babies greet the advent of solid food like the arrival of a new toy – and will play with it and hurl it around with equal gusto.
Parents on the other hand, usually face this milestone with a mix of excitement and trepidation, uncertain about when, what and how to feed their baby. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple answer for everything and by following these guidelines you’ll soon be having just as much fun as your bub.
Bearing in mind your baby is somewhat lacking in the teeth and eating skills department, baby cereal and pureed or finely mashed veggies or fruit – such as pumpkin, avocado, apple or pear – are a great place to start. Try just one to two teaspoons to begin with, moving up to a tablespoon or two.
From there, it’s a good idea to gradually increase the texture – this helps bub learn to chew and develop the muscles she’ll need to talk. If you stay on the gloopy stuff for too long, you’ll find she can be remarkably resistant to tackling anything lumpier.
Variety is the spice of life
Trying a variety of tastes should set your baby up to be more adventurous with their food (which will make your life easier). And don’t be afraid to mix and match. For instance, sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin, and mango and banana, are both good combos.
Alternating between food groups as bubs skills improve, will also help to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs to grow and develop.
Allergies and intolerances
If you have a family history of food allergies, a play-it-safe approach is to introduce one food at a time. Leaving it for a few days between each new food will give you a chance to rule out allergies and sensitivities. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, however, there’s no need to steer clear of known food allergens – so it’s fine to try foods like egg (cooked) and gluten.
No doubt you’ve already seen your baby’s pretty awesome gag reflex at work when he’s put inappropriate objects in his mouth. You can expect more of the same with solid foods as gagging on lumps and bumps is all par for the course.
Choking, of course, is another matter. To minimise the risks, save foods like raw carrot, nuts, whole grapes and popcorn until bub has a decent set of chompers. You’ll also want to make sure he’s sitting upright and under close supervision at mealtimes.
Dos and Don’ts
To boost your chances of success with solids, keep these do’s and don’ts front of mind:
- Do give breast milk or formula first to take the edge off your baby’s hunger.
- Don’t introduce solids when she’s tired or grizzly – wait until you’re both calm and relaxed.
- Do keep trying certain foods even if bub rejects them – it can take a number of goes for him to decide he likes it.
- Don’t give heated food without testing the temperature first.
- Do introduce finger foods when you think he’s ready (usually by about eight months), and let bub hold a spoon at mealtimes.
- Don’t add salt or sugar to your baby’s food; the same goes for honey (due to the risks of infant botulism) and wait until your bub’s a year old before introducing cow’s milk.
- Do follow your baby’s lead – she might not always be interested in solids or need as much from one day to the next.
Lastly, expect mealtimes to be messy. Table manners will come later (much later!) but for now he needs the freedom to explore, which means letting him play with his food, with his hands as well as his mouth – after all, what’s the point of having fingers if you can’t prod and squish your food and throw it onto the floor?
Investing in a plastic food mat and a bib with a deep trough will help to contain some of the spillage, but be prepared to pull the odd bit of broccoli out of your hair.
About the author – Jo Sharp.
Jo has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Based in Sydney, she covers both business and lifestyle topics and has written numerous articles about pregnancy and parenting. When she’s not glued to her laptop, she can be found out and about in Bondi with her two kids.
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