Introducing solids is a major milestone in a baby’s life. When we introduce solids we are helping our babies learn to eat, developing their teeth and jaws and also building other skills that will later help with language development.
Introducing solids is an exciting time for new parents. Once you get over the excitement – yes you’ll find that you get excited about your baby finally eating solids, then comes a whole lot of questions about what to feed your baby?
Giving your baby the experience of new tastes and textures from a range of foods is key in making sure that they get the nutrients that they need for a balanced and healthy diet. There is so much information out there and it can be overwhelming to know what is best for bub. The ideal scenario is to feed your baby what you are eating, but can that be done?
You can introduce solids in any order as long as they include iron rich foods. This means that there is no need for you to have to cook special meals for bub, however you will need to make sure that the food is the right texture.
Most of us newbie parents start bub on iron-fortified infant rice cereals, I did and even mixed it with formula as instructed, when I tasted it though, I thought it was awful – yuck, how could I feed my baby something I wouldn’t eat? I had stewed apple halves in the fridge (I have these with muesli in the mornings and they were stewed with a bit of honey and cinnamon), I grabbed them and whizzed them in the food processor until smooth and running and used this instead of formula to mix with my baby’s cereal. It tasted great and was a big hit with bub. I did mix up my stewed apples and add in blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, pear, peach and kiwi fruit just to name a few and this gave bub and me a bit of variety.
After my first food sharing experience, I decided that if I cooked food and was considerate that my baby was eating too, that I should be able to cook for us all without the need to cook separately for bub. Chili was served on the side and we did eat a lot more veggies. Other than that, we seemed to be doing fine with all eating the same foods, it just had to be the right texture.
Some of bubs favorite dishes at 4- 6 months were:
- Curried lentil and veggies with rice. This had no chili and was mild in spices
- Beef Goulash with mashed potatoes – mostly potatoes with bit of beef and sauce
- Chicken and Mushroom stew with sweet potato mash
- Chicken soup
- Pumpkin soup
- Broccoli soup
- Bean and veggie soup
Blending food was all it took and adding a bit of boiled water to thin out the food or rice cereal to thicken up runnier dishes was all that was needed to get the right texture. I was careful and always had a blander food base like sweet potato, potato or rice and added the flavor slowly as to not overwhelm the developing taste buds. We also ate a lot steamed/boiled veggies like green beans, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beetroot and asparagus and corn, which could all be blended for bub without a major fuss.
At around 7 months, we moved onto mashing the food and introduced egg, cooked boneless fish, minced meat, tofu and more tropical fruits and nut pastes as well as the occasional lamb cutlet bone or chicken leg bone, which was a well-loved treat with those teeth coming through.
Creating a menu to suit all the family is a great way of establishing good eating habits. If you have a family history of food allergies, introducing one new food at a time can help identify any allergic reactions your child may have, otherwise, there’s no need to introduce just one food at a time. Below is a list of the foods l like to use in family meals:
- Vegetables like cooked sweet potato, carrot, beans, beetroot, corn, asparagus etc
- Fruit like peach, banana, apple, melon, pear, avocado etc
- Oats, bread, rice and pasta
- Dairy Foods like yoghurt and full-fat cheeses
- Meats like fish, beef, chicken and lamb
- Legumes and Cooked egg – not raw or runny egg.
- Herbs and Spice – no chili or hot/burning spice flavors
If everyone is eating the same thing, this will also help you. As your child grows older, they will learn that everyone eats the same thing at meal times and should reduce the need to cook special meals for the kids.
Everyone is different and has a different approach to introducing solids to a baby’s diet. I found that by feeding my baby the foods I ate (with a little consideration) has made it really easy for me to cook for the family. It’s great as bub has a wide variety of food in her diet and when we go to dinner at family or friends places, I just carry the bowl and masher (I got one from Kmart for $4) and can mash up whatever is being served. Bub is always happy to eat what’s being served and on the odd occasion the food snob comes out, I’ll grab the emergency meal I packed for those “just in case” moments.
Please note that it is recommended that you must keep breastfeeding or using infant formula until at least 12 months, as well as introducing solids. After 12 months, your baby can have full-fat cow’s milk from a cup or bottle. Always supervise babies and young children when they’re eating solid food. Always take care with hard foods like nuts and meat with small bones, because these are a choking hazard/risk. Sitting with your baby while they eat not only helps to prevent choking, it also encourages social interaction and helps your baby learn about eating.