Puree and pumpkin mash and tiny bowls, oh my! It feels like one minute you were sending your birth announcement text and attempting to master the art of folding your Bugaboo, and now your little love is ready to start eating solid foods.
Yep, while not every #mumlife day is unicorns and rainbows, those mushy-eyed old biddies at the shops were kinda right when they told you it all goes by so fast.
So, if it’s time to start solids and you’re not sure where to begin, scroll on for a quick guide in the name of happy little tummies everywhere.
When to start solids
Experts say that breastmilk or infant formula provides all the nutrients that babies need until they’re around six months old. It’s suggested that you can begin to offer solid foods once your bub shows signs of being ready. Here’s what to look out for:
- She is able to sit up with support
- He has good head control
- She shows interest in what’s on your plate at mealtimes
- He gets excited when he sees you preparing food
- She opens her mouth when you bring a spoon towards her
Baby-led weaning vs. purees
Seen talk of BLW vs. purees on Insta, but not 100% across the difference between these two approaches to weaning?
The name says it all – parents start solids by offering their offspring foods in smooth puree form. This traditional approach is likely the one your parents used back when you were in rompers, and involves the infant being fed with a spoon. Typically, once bub is used to purees, she will gradually be offered lumps, chunks and then finger foods. This method of slowly introducing chunkier textures means gagging is less likely, and while meal prep is more time-consuming, more food may end up in bub’s mouth (as opposed to on your floorboards).
This means starting solids by letting your baby feed herself finger foods. Those who go with the BLW approach say that it’s less time-consuming, as you don’t need to spend time pureeing and mushing foods; and children who start solids this way may grow to be less fussy when it comes to food. However, it can be messier if the food is too textured for baby to chew properly, and it’s possible bub may not ingest enough iron if she’s not also offered easy-to-swallow minced meat.
What foods to start with
According to experts, it’s recommended that you first introduce smooth, soft foods such as iron-fortified baby cereal, or mushed or pureed fruits and cooked vegetables. All babies have different taste preferences, so you can experiment with what your bub likes – just keep in mind that foods containing iron are an important part of her diet, as this is the main additional nutrient babies require from six months old. It’s recommended that you also continue giving breastmilk or infant formula until baby is 12 months old.
What you’ll need
While we’re all for the idea of bringing out the good china just because, when chubby little hands are involved, bespoke-for-bub – aka smash-proof – equipment is called for.
Plates + bowls
Mums in the know swear by those clever baby bowls and plates with suction-cap bottoms, to prevent dinner being accidently upended on the floor.
Teeny infant-sized spoons are a must. Go with silicone, which is soft on sensitive gums, not to mention much kinder to the planet than plastic versions.
No mama wants to see her carefully curated baby wardrobe stained with the remnants of pumpkin and mushy peas, so a bib collection is a must. We like the ones with the little inbuilt shelf for heavy-duty protection.
Allergens: what to know
A number of foods can potentially cause an allergic reaction in babies, including nuts, wheat, cow’s milk and eggs. Studies show that introducing allergenic foods early can decrease the risk of an allergy developing later on. Experts recommend gradually exposing baby to solid foods that may cause allergies, such as nut butters, well-cooked eggs and soft pasta, from six months old.
Written by Rebecca Hanley