Starting your baby on solids is an exciting time but it can also be quite overwhelming knowing where to begin and what you need. It was so easy when all they had was milk!
But with a bit of thoughtful planning, teaching your baby to eat solids can be simple and fun.
Kiindred’s pediatric nutritionist, Mandy Sacher from Wholesome Child, recommends starting your baby on singular root vegetables in a smooth puree consistency between the ages of 4-6 months. “Starting your little one off on singular root vegetables will ensure that they get their required nutritional intake, in combination with their milk feeds,” recommends Mandy.
Baby-led weaning is also an option for introducing babies to solids, providing they are developmentally ready to do so.
How do you know if they are ready to start solids?
Typically from around 4 months of age babies might start to show an interest in what you are eating – it’s like they’re eyeing it off! Interest is a definite starting point, but they should also be able to sit unassisted in their high chair with their neck muscles strong enough to support their head.
They should also open their mouth when offered food – and they no longer have the tongue-thrust reflex which helps protect the baby from choking and also helps them with breast and bottle feeding. They usually grow out of this at around 5-6 months of age.
They will also show you signs they are no longer hungry or are not interested, such as:
- Turning their head away
- Getting distracted or irritable
- Pushing the spoon away or refusing to open their mouth
How to introduce solids into their day?
Most people will get excited at the fact their little one really enjoys their solid food – and that is great! Babies who take to solids quite easily will generally eat quite a bit, so they will need your support with regulating their solids intake at this early stage.
Regardless of your chosen method, the idea is to initially introduce 1 new food every 2-3 days and then build up until you are offering combinations or flavours, additional meals and added herbs & spices.
Introducing solids slowly will ensure that it doesn’t compromise milk feeds which in turn can affect sleep. It is also important to ensure that a solid meal doesn’t fall too close to the night bottle and that these are at least 1.5 hours apart. If the nightly milk feed is compromised, chances are your little one will wake for a milk feed.
Check out your personalised Daily Rhythm in the Kiindred app for a suggested guide on timings for solid meals and milk feeds.
What are the best first foods for starting solids?
Some great first foods when starting out on solids include sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini, pears, peaches and apple.
For a simple, quick and effective way to prepare your vegetables, you can follow Mandy’s method below:
- Steam the vegetable or fruit with filtered water
- Drain water from the pot/saucepan once steamed
- Transfer the cooked vegetables back into the pot + puree until desired consistency
- You can add boiled water, bone broth (from 5 months onwards) or even the steaming liquid – if you would like to thin out the puree
- Set aside to cool
- Freeze in small weaning pods until needed (start with a 60ml size + move onto 120mls as your baby gets older).
Do solids help baby sleep through the night?
There is a lot of expectation around sleep as you near the 6-month mark. A lot of people will look forward to their little one sleeping through as a result of solids being established in their day. In some cases, this doesn’t always turn out as planned and some babies will continue to wake throughout the night. Don’t be too disheartened – as longer periods of sleep may only be a few tweaks away.
The feeding essentials for starting solids
It’s important to know that you don’t need to go and purchase every gadget on the market. With that said, having some key items in your kitchen will make the process much easier as you move through the evolution of textures.
Here are some of Mandy’s solids essentials:
- Steamer Measuring cups + spoons Slow Cooker
- Hand held blender
- Food processor
- Containers (for freezing larger quantities)
- Weaning pods (choose BPA free or glass)
- Brown paper baking sheets
- Mini muffin trays + inserts
Remember starting solids should be a fun time, so try not to stress or worry if your baby isn’t interested in feeding. Remember that enjoying food is a sensory (and messy) experience so don’t get hung up on mess and how much is actually making it into their mouths.
Take it slow, make it a fun time of the day so they look forward to it and if they’re not interested it might be a good idea to wait a couple of days and start fresh. At this stage, milk should still remain their primary source of nutrients so anything they’re getting from solids is an added bonus.
If you are worried or concerned about your child’s feeding you should always speak with your doctor or pediatrician.