Starting Baby on Solid Food

Weaning is an exciting milestone in your baby’s development and it should be a fun time for both of you. Here are our top tips to make it as enjoyable as possible.

Don’t start too early

The recommended age to start weaning is 6 months so avoid the temptation to start too early. Babies’ digestive systems are not developed enough to cope with solids before then so it’s best to wait until they’re ready.

Look for signs that they’re ready

1. They have good head control

2. They can sit unsupported

3. They can guide toys and objects from their hands to their mouths

4. They are still hungry after a milk feed

5. They are showing an interest in food

6. They can swallow food

Useful equipment

• Feeding chair

• Soft tipped plastic spoons

• Plastic bowls

• Ice cube containers

• Small plastic containers

• Hand blender or food processor

• Steamer (Steaming is one of the best ways to preserve nutrients)

Start with purées

First foods should be smooth with no lumps so you will need to purée them. A food processer, mini-blender or hand blender is ideal for this. Add in cooking water or milk to make it runnier. Sweet potato, carrot, parsnip and turnip are good first vegetables, while apples, pears and bananas are good first fruits.

Stick to small amounts at first

Start your baby off with tiny quantities – a few teaspoons is enough for the first few meals.

Introduce vegetables first

Babies (like most of us) prefer sweet tastes so it’s a good idea to start with vegetables so they don’t get too used to sweet things. You can sweeten up vegetables by mixing them with a bit of fruit so don’t be afraid to experiment. Avocado and banana is a winning combination.

It’s messy so be prepared

At first more food will end up on the floor than in your baby’s mouth. Stock up on bibs (wipe clean ones are ideal). Put a plastic mat under the feeding chair, keep plenty of wipes handy and choose a time that’s close to bath time.

Batch cook baby’s food and freeze it

Babies only eat very small amounts at first so you can freeze the rest and use it later. This is a great way of having a variety of foods on hand. Ice cube containers are perfect for when they’re very small and you can move on to small plastic containers as they eat more.

Keep a food diary

Babies need to try a new food at least 10 times before you can tell whether they like it so if they don’t seem to like something at first don’t give up. Keep trying it every now and then and they might grow to like it. It can help to keep a food diary to keep track of what they like.

Baby-led weaning

If you’re feeling more adventurous, baby-led weaning can be a great way to go. This simply involves giving baby chunks of soft foods and letting them feed themselves. This is great for their motor development and, as they’re in control, can lead to less fussy eaters. It can be a bit nerve wracking if you’re worried about choking so make sure you know what to do but you’ll be surprised how well they can manage.

Stay calm and keep it fun

Don’t be disheartened if your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy food at first. It’s a big change for them and can take some getting used to. Never force them to eat or put pressure on them, as this could lead to problematic mealtimes later on. The trick is to stay calm, keep it fun and stop if they’re not happy. Remember, we all eat eventually.