Starting your baby on solids is an exciting time and while it's fun to see how they respond to this whole new world, it can also be a little scary, somewhat time consuming, and very messy. Here are our top tips for starting on this new phase.
Please note: the tips below mainly focus on spoon feeding as this has been our experience. And while we have been through starting solids a few times, this is just our opinion born out of experience - you'll get advice from your Well Child provider, you can take a look at the MoH guidelines, and please consult a dietitian if you have any concerns about your baby’s diet.
- Learn the difference between gagging and choking. Babies have a strong gag reflex so there can be a lot of gagging initially which can be quite scary. Educating yourself about the differences between gagging and choking will help you know what’s normal and when to worry. Here in New Zealand there are a number of child first aid courses available - it's worth doing one so you feel equipped with the tools needed to deal with whatever comes your way.
- Start with veges. When introducing solids it’s a good idea to start with vegetables and to stick with the same vegetable for a few days in a row, before moving on to another one. This allows baby to develop a taste for savoury foods before they are introduced to sweet foods. It's also important to include iron into a babies diet. Babies have iron stores to last them until approximately six months, and, due to how much they grow in the first year they require approximately 10-11mg of iron each day which is more than a child aged 1-3 who requires 9mg a day. This great blog by Dr. Julie Bhosale has some handy information about different types of iron and how best to include it in your baby's diet.
- Build up a freezer stash. Having a few different options in the freezer not only saves on time, but also allows you to mix and match as baby gets a bit more adventurous. Invest in a couple of baby food freezer trays which make a kind of baby food ice cube. Once the food cubes are frozen, pop them out and store in a labelled and dated container or zip lock bag. If you freeze each food individually this gives you the ability to mix up the food combinations to keep it interesting. Even things such as cooked lentils, rice and meat can be frozen.
- It’s okay to feed your baby store bought food. Making your own baby food is great, but don’t beat yourself up if you feed your baby store bought baby food. There are a number of excellent producers of baby food such as our favourites Little Pot of Gold who use only natural, fresh ingredients, exactly how you would make it at home. If you are buying baby food from the supermarket check the ingredients list and buy the best one you can afford.
- Double up on family meals. To save on time, turn the meal - or part of it - you are making for you and your partner, or family, into baby food. For example if you are having pumpkin for dinner, roast some extra (use only a little oil and no salt) and puree it up, or offer as whole pieces for baby's meal, or use it to build up your freezer stash. As baby grows you can rough mash your meals (i.e. lasagne) or offer parts of it whole - just make sure the pieces are an appropriate size and texture.
- Purchase a few things to make it less messy. There’s no doubt about it, solids are a messy business. Food will end up all over the highchair, floor, walls, your baby and sometimes even the ceiling! Purchasing a suction bowl (we love these from Petite Eats, and these from Tiny Table Co.) will mean the bowl doesn’t go flying, a silicon bib will help protect your little ones clothing, and one of our Mess Mats will protect your floor. All super easy to clean (because who needs more washing, right!?) and easy on the eye.
We've put recipes in apostrophes as they aren't really recipes, but more of a method, with some flavour combination suggestions.
When baby starts on solids the puree you feed them needs to be very smooth and quite loose (but not so loose that it slides off the spoon). However if you are building up your freezer stash we suggest freezing the food without too much liquid added. You can always add more liquid (water, breastmilk or formula) before you serve it, but it's difficult to remove if by the time you use it your baby has moved on to a chunkier stage.
To make a suitable first puree, chop and simmer your chosen vegetable in water, low salt stock or bone broth, until very soft. Blend with a little of the cooking liquid and pop into your food trays to freeze. Or if you plan to serve it straight away add some expressed breastmilk, formula or more of the cooking liquid to loosen it further.
You can use a similar process for meat, legumes, and fruit.
Suggested flavour combinations
As baby grows you can start to mix up the flavour combinations (follow the MoH guidelines around when to introduce certain foods). Some of our favourite combos are:
- Kumara, spinach, beef (mince) and lentils
- Chicken (mince), rice, pumpkin, kale
- Beetroot, pumkin, quinoa
- Peas, kumara, risoni/orzo pasta, lamb (mince)
- Potato (don't blend potato - it goes gluey), beef, silverbeet
- Beetroot, apple, quinoa
* Avocado and banana also make great first foods but don't need to be cooked.Good luck, and please feel free to tag us in any of your pics x