The exact stage at which babies become interested in solids varies. For most babies this is around six months of age, when:
- They are able to sit up and hold their head upright.
- They show interest in food and reach for it.
- A full breastfeed or bottle no longer satisfies them.
Solids are important to encourage new experiences of taste and texture, help with speech, jaw and teeth development and provide additional nutrients such as iron and vitamin C.
RECOMMENDED FIRST FOODS
Fortified rice cereal is usually the first food recommended for babies as the smooth consistency is generally well tolerated, it is high in carbohydrate and a good source of iron. Rice cereal can be mixed with expressed breast milk, infant formula or cooled boiled water to a thick paste consistency.
The amount of cereal should be increased according to your baby’s demands. Start by offering a teaspoon after a breastfeed (or bottle) once a day and work up to offering two to three times per day to get them used to solid foods.
At first, some babies will spit food out straight away. This is normal as they learn to feed from a spoon and does not mean they don’t like the food. It is best not to force the food, wait and try again after the next feed. It may take many tries before your baby accepts a new food.
As you introduce your baby to tasting a variety of new foods, breast milk (or infant formula) will continue to be the most important source of nutrition for their growth and development.
Other new foods to introduce:
- Meat, chicken, fish – cooked and pureed
- Tofu – cooked and pureed
- Legumes – such as cannellini beans, baked beans (no added salt) and lentils, cooked and pureed
- Vegetables – cooked and pureed such as pumpkin, potato, zucchini, sweet potato, cauliflower, carrots
- Fruit – pureed stewed fruit such as apple, pear and apricot
- Dairy – smooth baby yoghurt (lower in added sugar), full-fat smooth Greek yoghurt, and full-fat custard
Commercial baby foods are very convenient for occasional use. However, these products are not designed to replace all meals as they may lack texture for stimulating chewing skills. They are also costly. As a time saver, it is worthwhile preparing food for your baby and freezing small amounts.
Freezing baby foods in ice cube trays gives convenient meal sized portions.