Starting solids - baby's first foods
Did you know that
- First solids are for tastes and learning how to move solid food around in the mouth?
- First solids are introduced at 4-6 months of age (check with your local doctor or child health nurse)
- First solids have a consistency like ‘runny custard’?
- From 6 months of age babies need iron for brain development and so iron fortified cereals are the very best ‘first’ solids?
- Most babies will pull faces when they first start solids?
- Delaying solids does not reduce the likelihood of infants developing eczema
- Delaying solids beyond 6 months can make it hard for baby’s feeding development
Many parents hope that any sleep or fussing issues will magically disappear with the introduction of solid foods. Often this does not happen though. Like learning to sit up, crawl or walk, everything takes practice. Starting solid food is no different.
During breast and bottle-feeding, the liquid is delivered right to the back of the baby’s mouth. But with solids, babies are learning how to move food from the front to the back of the mouth for swallowing. So if on day one, you manage to get a couple of little tastes into your baby’s mouth, you’ve been successful! They will not polish off a whole bowl of baby food until they’ve been practicing daily for a month or more.
Keep first solids simple. Start with an iron-fortified cereal as by 6 months of age, your baby needs iron in their diet for brain development. Start with just two teaspoons and gradually increase the amount each day. Parents often move onto pureed vegetables and fruits next, followed by pureed chicken and meats. Introduce each new food on their own for about three days to monitor for signs of intolerance (eg. redness around the mouth, eczema, hives, vomiting, tummy cramps, diarrhoea, or if serious: swelling of the tongue and throat with breathing difficulty). Symptoms will usually appear within minutes to 2 hours after eating a suspect food.
Each baby’s appetite is different – be guided by your little person as to how much they can manage. Remember also that appetite will fluctuate with growth spurts and activity levels.
First solids should not be thick or sticky as these textures will cause baby to gag! You are aiming for a runny smooth puree. This new taste and texture is very different to what they’ve had before, so face pulling is to be expected. Babies are wired to mirror your movements, so remember to smile heaps as you feed them so that they understand that solids are good.
Some parents are put off when their little one doesn’t immediately polish their bowl clean. Research shows that rather than helping things, delaying solids makes the feeding process harder and can mean that baby is missing nutrients that are essential for brain and body growth and development. If after two weeks of daily trials you are still experiencing problems, please see your local doctor or child health nurse for assistance.