At some point during your baby’s first year, you will probably want to start weaning them on to solid foods. It is very important not to do this too soon – solids can put a strain on your baby’s immature kidneys if introduced too early.
Current recommendations are to start introducing solid foods after 6 months, although many mothers continue to exclusively breastfeed for a while longer.
-Your Health professional will be able to guide you as to when to introduce solids, but general signs that your baby may be ready are:
-They seem to demand more milk at feeds. Whether they are breast or bottle fed, your baby may suckle for longer and consistently need bigger quantities than previously.
-They may still be hungry after feeds and demand additional ones. For example, a baby that fed every two hours may suddenly need feeding hourly.
-Babies who were sleeping through the night may suddenly start to wake up for feeds.
-They may be chewing their fists.
-Your baby has developed hand to mouth co-ordination and can hold objects well.
-Your baby can sit up by themselves and seems to notice other people eating.
If you decide that your baby is ready, here are a few tips to get you started:
-Your baby will need to be in an upright position to try his first foods. A high chair or sitting on your lap are good options.
-Before you introduce the first solid, make sure you baby has had some of their milk feed.
-Prepare your own first foods by steaming or stewing vegetables or fruits, then blending them into a smooth consistency.
-Great first foods from 6 months include cooked, cooled and pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, apples or pears and cold foods such as mushypeaches, bananas or avocados. Baby rices and cereals made with their usual milk are also great first foods.
-Freeze home-cooked foods into little pots such as these
, defrosting one each time you plan on feeding.
-There is no need to add extra sweetener, salt or spice to the foods. Keep things simple and tasty and let your baby experience each thing.
-Stick to the same couple of fruits or vegetables at first so you can watch out for any reactions.
-Avoid gluten and dairy products for 6 months as these could provoke allergic responses of introduced too soon.
-Be prepared for lots of mess, spitting out, dribbling and rejection at first! This is perfectly normal. Never force food on your baby and wait for them to open their mouth if spoon feeding. Let them explore the foods themselves even if it means your kitchen looks like a bomb-site afterwards! All this encourages healthy attitudes to eating.
-Your baby’s appetite may vary from time to time. Try not to be too anxious if they eat a lot one day and not so much the next. This is normal, but speak to your health professional if you are concerned.
-Remember you can keep breastfeeding alongside weaning as long as you and your baby are happy and healthy.
-Babies love to feel part of the family and mimic what they see around them, so it can be fun to introduce solids while the rest of the family are eating around the table. Sometimes your baby will happily take a spoonful of carrot from a sibling that they refused from mum or dad!
-Weaning can be really fun so have your camera ready for some of the spectacular faces your baby will pull as they experience new flavours.