When your baby starts solid food, you’re entering into a whole new unknown world.
It is easy to become overwhelmed and to worry about how, when and what they’ll be eating. But, like most things when you’re a parent, there’s really no need to stress – all you need is a little bit of information, a bit of patience and a smile on your face (oh, and with starting solids, it doesn’t help to have a rag nearby to wipe up the mess!).
We don’t want you to panic about your baby’s first meals – so here are five ways to keep it simple when starting your baby on solid food.
5 ways to keep starting solids simple
Start when your baby is ready
The current recommendation* is that babies start solid food when they are about six months old but not before four months**.
To make things easier for you and your baby you should watch them for the signs they are ready for solid food. When they are ready – within that window around six months – they will be much easier to feed, which means less stress for you.
Pick a relaxing time of the day to give solid food
Things will be a lot simpler if your baby is more relaxed when having those first tastes of solid food. This means that you need to find a part of the day when baby isn’t hungry or too tired. Don’t feel like you need to stick to ‘traditional’ mealtimes. The best time is after a nap and after their usual milk feed. Also, it is important that you are relaxed. Make sure you won’t be rushed or distracted while feeding your baby.
Remember all food is new to a baby
The current recommendation* is that babies can be introduced to new food in any order as long as iron-rich foods are included in their diet. Baby’s first food also must be nutritious and of a consistency appropriate for their development. Remember that you don’t have to cook up a storm, batch freeze pureed baby food or create gourmet dinners. By all means, if you want to you should but if all that stresses you out just thinking about it remember that ALL food is new to a baby. Cook extra for them when you cook your own dinner, puree up some meat or pumpkin, cut up some cooked carrot sticks or hand them a banana!
Try not to stress
Your baby will pick up on your stress if you’re anxious about starting solids. If you’re worried about the mess it might help to remember that starting solids is also an opportunity for your baby to work on their fine motor skills – they’ll get better (and less messy) but only if you let them practice. If you’re worried that they are not interested, remember that this is all very new to them, just persevere. If you’re worried that they only ate a small amount, remember that their first meal is only a teaspoon or two – and that starting solids isn’t about filling their bellies. If you’re worried that they don’t like a certain food, remember that it takes about 12 or so tastes before a baby will like something. Of course, if you’re really concerned that something isn’t right talk to your health care provider.
Babies are wired to mirror your movements, so remember to smile while you feed them so they understand that solids are good.
*Infant Feeding Guidelines NHMRC 2012
** The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Infant Feeding Advice and Guidelines for Allergy Prevention in Infants 2016