For the first six months, all your little one needs in terms of nourishment is breastmilk or formula. It has all the vitamins and nutrients for your child to grow up happy and healthy. Between four and six months, bubba might show developmental signs of being ready for “real” food.
You can start to introduce solid foods around six months, bearing in mind that your baby will only take small amounts at first. Start by feeding him solids once a day, and increase it to two or three times daily. At eight to nine months, give your baby solids as part of breakfast, lunch and dinner. From six to nine months, give your baby breast milk or formula first, then proceed to solids after the milk.
From nine months onwards, you can start feeding solids first, then breast milk or formula. This enables your little one to transition naturally from formula or breast feeds to only solids by around 12 months.
Your mini-me is typically ready for solids when he is able to hold his head up, sit with minimal support, outgrown his tongue-thrust reflex (which makes him push food out of his mouth) as well as shows interest when you’re eating.
Introducing new textures into your child’s diet can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. The key is to not stress. Remember that during the first year, solids are just for fun and only meant to complement milk, not replace or take precedence over it.
Here’s how to get your baby onto the right dietary track.
#1 Start with iron-fortified baby rice
Of course, you’ll be wondering what type of food you should first introduce to your baby. Since a baby’s first food should contain iron, we recommend starting with iron-fortified baby rice. This is least likely to trigger an allergy reaction – feed him the same thing three to four days in row to ensure he isn’t allergic to it. Be sure to look out for allergy signs like rash, swelling of lips or eyes, diarrhoea or vomiting.
If the coast is clear, gradually introduce other cereals containing wheat and oat. Try mixing one or two teaspoons of cereal with some breastmilk or formula. This will encourage junior to eat it as he’s familiar with the taste and smell of the milk.
#2 Follow up by introducing fruits and vegetables
After starting with rice and cereal, slowly begin to introduce other food groups. These include single-ingredient fruits and vegetables. For vegetables, consider cooked and pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, potato, peas, broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini. Gradually puree them less so the texture gets thicker.
As for fruit, you can give your baby pureed apples, pears, peaches, berries or mashed ripe banana. Take care to avoid large pieces of raw apples as babies may choke on them.
#3 Keep the food texture runny
Your baby’s first foods should be smooth purees with no lumps. If you’re making food at home, you can puree them in a blender, making the consistency about as thin as oatmeal. This is to ensure your baby can consume and digest the food easily. You can move onto finely minced and soft food before progressing to lumpy foods by nine months.
#4 Use a spoon
Be sure to use one with silicone tip as it’ll protect your little one’s gums no matter how hard he chomps on it. Even better, use one that’s flat to make it easier for you to scrape away the stray bits around his mouth and sneak them back in.
Also, avoid mixing cereals into your baby’s bottle as this will prevent him from making the connection that food is to be eaten while sitting up and from a spoon.
#5 Start slow
Nurse or bottle-feed your young ’un first, then give him rice or cereal. At this point, your baby is only going to take a few mouthfuls, so don’t push him any further if he’s not showing interest. If he’s completely unenthusiastic about it, give it to him on alternate days or wait a week before trying again.
#6 Encourage self-feeding
Tolerate the mess he makes! Give him a spoon if he shows interest and feed him in between his own attempts. This will not only be a great source of entertainment, but he’ll also learn to hone his pincer grasp which will come in handy when you introduce finger foods at a later stage.
Always remember that feeding can be a time for bonding for both of you!
#7 Advance to finger foods
At about nine months, your little one will likely be able to eat finger foods such as chunkier meats and small pieces of fruits and vegetables. We recommend introducing small pieces that are about the size of your baby’s fingertips.
You can also begin to introduce water into your child’s sippy cup during meals and snack time. However, steer clear of sweet drinks like juices which usually contain sugar.
What not to do when weaning your baby
- Put food in a bottle.
- Give food larger than your baby’s fingertip.
- Give sharp food or other food that baby can choke on, like grapes (unless cut up) or slices of bread.
- Give baby whole milk until before the first birthday.
- Force feed your baby. Healthy babies turn away or lose interest when they’ve had enough.
- Give up too quickly – without trying each food a few times.
If you’re struggling with weaning your baby, consult an expert for professional advice. Centres like Thomson ParentCraft can teach you how to introduce solids to your baby in a fun way and minimise your struggles during this transition period.
Check out these stories, too…