Starting solids with your baby can be equated to trying to get a dog to write his own name… in Mandarin… with a calligraphy pen. Quite frankly, it’s not easy. There are just so many things to consider, like: when to start, how much to give your baby, which foods to give, which foods are potentially allergenic and how to introduce them. The list of questions go on.
Here are a few guidelines that will help you get started, and hopefully these can clear up the fog of questions, to allow you to enjoy this momentous time for your baby.
1) 3 Day Food Introduction Process
How should you introduce new foods? There are many opinions, ranging from the risky: “Introduce each whenever” to the very conservative: “Introduce each new food over a period of 5 days”. The happy medium is somewhere in between. Test each new food for at least 3 days. If your baby has any adverse reactions during those 3 days, it may be because of the new food. All potential allergenic foods (like fish and eggs) should be tested for at least 5 days and only after consultation with your paediatrician.
The new food is also only given for breakfast and/or lunch during those 3 days. If your baby does have any adverse reactions it will be early enough in the day that it doesn’t impact on his/ her nighttime sleep.
2) Create a Flexible Schedule For Your Baby
Make sure that you start this journey with a flexible schedule, one that you can swap out any foods for alternatives within a list of foods based on whether they are fruits, vegetables, fats or proteins. If your baby doesn’t like a particular food then rather try a different one from the relevant list.
3) Give Your Baby Variety For Added Nutrition
Include a wide range of healthy fats, fruit, vegetables and eventually proteins – to ensure that your baby gets a mix of healthy vitamins and nutrients. Vegetables should form the basis of all meals – this is because they are low in sugar but are high in fibre, have slow releasing carbohydrates. They are also more nutritionally dense then fruit.
4) Should You Start with Baby Cereal?
It is up to you whether you would like to begin with a cereal. You can also choose to give your baby pureed butternut or sweet potato (or another equally plain tasting vegetable). What worked for me and my low carb kid was starting with a plain cereal. The cereal tastes similar to baby’s milk, which made it easier for him to get used to this whole new way of feeding.
5) Start When YOUR Baby is Ready
You have probably come across a lot of opinions on this topic. Some are adamantly set on only starting solids after 6 months, and others say that you can start from 4 months. I am of the opinion that you should start when YOUR baby is ready. And you will know… after all, you are the person that knows your baby the best! I started with my little bubsy at 4 months – he was a big chap (still is) and displayed all of the signs that he was ready very early on.
You will know if your baby is ready to start eating solids with these four signs:
- Ability to sit with little support and hold head up.
- Loss of the “extrusion reflex” – a tongue-thrust reflex that pushes everything out of the mouth
- Increased appetite (e.g. Increased feeds, finishing milk bottles, waking earlier at night for a feed)
- Interest in your food.
6) Increase Quantities Gradually
Quantities should be increased gradually so that your little baby’s stomach can cope. This is another reason why if your baby is displaying signs of readiness, that you should start solids. You can then start your little one on small quantities and build up slowly. It is also not just the food that they have to get used to, it is also the act of feeding in this way that is so different and it takes time (and lots of patience) to get your baby to a point where he/ she is eating fair quantities enough for a meal.
7) Make Yourself Convenient Portions for Freezing
The best way to start (when you start fruit, veggies and meat) is to use the Iceblock method. One tablespoon is the size of an average ice block. This means that you can prepare and puree food then freeze them into ice blocks. If you know your baby has 5 tablespoons of food at a meal, then just add a convenient combination to your baby’s breakfast, lunch and dinner containers ready for the day ahead.
8) Mix Stronger Flavours With Food your Baby Likes
When introducing new foods, particularly those with stronger flavours, I would recommend mixing a small portion with foods that your baby already enjoys. This will help them get used to the new flavours, and over time you can increase the proportion of the stronger tasting food.
9) Add Healthy Fats To Every Meal
This is one that many people forget. Humans need fat to survive, for energy and also to aid the absorption of vital vitamins (namely: Vitamins D, E, A and K). You can include a small portion of healthy fats with every meal. For your baby’s first solids the best ones are avocado or extra-virgin coconut oil.
10) Create A Duplicable Meal Plan Pattern
Once you have introduced a range of new foods (including meat), using the 3 day introduction process, you can then create a simple duplicable meal plan for your munchkin. This is the plan that I used:
Breakfast: Fruit + Vegetables + Fat
Lunch: Fruit + Vegetables + Protein + Fat
Dinner: Vegetables + Protein + Fat
This pattern offers a good variety for your baby.
Please comment below with any questions or guidelines that you may have about starting solids with your baby. And if you found value in this post, please share it! Sharing is caring! 😉