How should I introduce solids?
Experts recommend that you wait until your baby’s six months old before offering him solid food. When he’s ready, you may find it easiest to start with simple, pureed or well-mashed foods. Try offering your baby one or two spoonfuls of the following:
- Well-mashed or pureed vegetables, such as cooked carrot, parsnip, potato or sweet potato.
- Well-mashed or pureed fruit, such as banana, cooked apple, ripe pear or mango.
- Baby cereal such as baby rice, sago, maize, cornmeal or millet. You can mix these with some of your baby’s usual milk.
You can offer food to your baby before or after a milk feed, or in the middle of a feed if it works better. Pick a time that’s good for both of you. If you’ve heated the food, stir, cool and test it on the inside of your wrist before giving it to your baby.
It may take your baby a while to get used to these new flavours. Don’t be surprised if he rejects the food or spits it out. Just try again later, or the next day. You can make the food a little blander by mixing it with a few teaspoons of your baby’s usual milk.
At first, your baby may seem to eat very little. Be patient and remember it may take time for him to learn how to eat. As he develops more of a side-to-side, grinding motion, add less liquid to his food so the texture is thicker, with chunkier, soft lumps. This allows your baby to work on chewing, or gumming, and swallowing.
As your baby becomes used to fruits, vegetables and cereal, add a variety of other foods. Then gradually increase the number of times a day that he has solids. By the time your baby is about seven months old, he should be eating solids three times a day. A typical day’s intake could include:
- Breastmilk or formula milk.
- Iron-fortified cereal. Check packaging for salt and sugar levels, though.
- Vegetables. These can include potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, spinach and butternut squash.
- Small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, yoghurt, hard-boiled egg, well-cooked lentils or cheese. Don’t give your baby brie, stilton and other mould-ripened or soft cheeses.
Your baby’s appetite will vary from one feed to the next. Watch out for cues that he’s full. If he keeps his mouth shut, turns away, or starts playing with his food, he’s probably had enough.
Don’t worry if he hasn’t eaten much in a meal or even in a day. It is the quantity and quality of the food he eats over a whole week that is more important.
Some parents choose not to spoon feed their babies puree. They prefer to let their babies feed themselves. This is known as baby-led weaning.
If you would like to try baby-led weaning, offer your baby a selection of nutritious “finger” foods suitable for his age.
When your baby starts solids, he will only be able to clasp foods in his fists. The easiest foods for him to feed himself are those that are shaped like a chip, or have a handle, such as cooked broccoli spears. Your baby will gradually learn to pick things up between his thumb and forefinger, called the pincer grip, in the next few months.
At first, your baby may just play with his food. He may grab pieces of food and start to suck on them. Carry on giving your baby breastmilk or formula milk in between mealtimes. As your baby gradually eats more solids, the number of milk feeds will start to decrease.