The introduction of soft, solid food is an important stage in your baby’s development. It is an exciting and challenging time for you and your baby. Go at your baby’s pace as all children are different and progress at a different pace.
When to start:
Until 6 months of age, your baby needs only human milk or infant formula to grow and develop. However, around 6 months your child’s nutrient stores and requirements are no longer met by breast milk/ formula alone in particular for iron and zinc. You will need 6 Months Baby Food. Introducing solids can help to ensure your baby receives all the vitamins and minerals needed to grow and develop into a healthy child.
Around 6 months your baby may shows signs that he/she is ready for starting solids. These may include:
- Wanting to put things in his/her mouth.
- Able to suck small amounts of pureed food from a spoon.
- Interested in food eaten by others.
- More frequent feeding.
- Can sit upright when supported with good control of the head and neck.
Solids can be introduced gradually. There is no need to force food – human milk or formula is still the most important part of the baby’s diet. At this stage solid foods are “tastes” for your baby.
Offer food between or after a milk feed. Start by using a firm plastic spoon with small shallow bowl.
The first solids need to be sloppy smooth in texture (i.e. no lumps) and mild in taste.
Baby rice cereal is an excellent first solid food because of its smooth texture and high iron content. Mix it with a little human milk, formula or cool, boiled water.
Pureed vegetable and fruit are also excellent
Start with one to two teaspoons of solids. Increase the quantity to two to three tablespoons, and then build up to three meals a day at your baby’s own pace.
Try one new food at a time and introduce a new food every 2-4 days adding onto their existing diet.
Small quantities of food can be frozen in ice cube trays or stored in airtight plastic bags and thawed as needed.
Step 2 (Around 7-8 months)
Once your baby is around eight months old and is eating baby-rice cereal and several different fruits and vegetables, try other foods with a higher protein and iron content with a thicker texture such as:
• Well cooked meats and poultry e.g. meat, chicken, fish
• Cooked egg
• Dried peas, lentils, beans eg baked beans, red kidney beans
• Wheat-based cereals (couscous, pasta, bread/toast) rolled oats, baby muesli, rice.
• Include at least 2-3 different food choices at each meal. Try to offer these separately, not always mixed together to allow you child to develop food preferences for different tastes.
NOTE: If your family has a strong history of allergies discuss this with your doctor.
Food Texture Changes
Between six to nine months of age babies begin to chew (even if they have no teeth). During this time it is important that the texture of foods changes from a smooth puree to a mashed texture with small, soft lumps and finally minced/finely chopped foods. Introducing minced and chopped foods encourages practice in chewing and biting lumpy foods, which helps develop baby’s speech.
Your baby will benefit from healthy eating at every stage of development – from childhood, when good nourishment is needed for rapid growth – to adulthood, when a well balanced diet can reduce the risk of many diet-related diseases. Now is the time to introduce life-long healthy eating habits.