Introducing your baby to solid foods is an exciting time, but it can be confusing and harrowing at times. We've put together a few tips and tricks to help you make a smooth transition from milk to solids. The below information has been sourced from the Australian Department of Health, Tresillian Australia and 'The Happy Baby Cookbook' by Australian Women's Weekly.
When to introduce solids to your baby
Generally, children are ready to start eating solids at around the 6-month mark, but not before 4 months. Your child will start to show signs that they're ready such as opening their mouth when you offer food on a spoon, leaning forward in their high chair, showing in an interest in solid foods and having good control of their head and neck whilst sitting upright. It's best to introduce solid foods after a milk feed. This is because when babies are really hungry, all they want is the milk that they know will satisfy their hunger. They will be happy and relaxed afterwards and more open to trying new foods.
"Ideally, breastfeeding should continue for at least the first year of life. Breastfeeding is especially important when a baby is starting new foods, as it may reduce the chance of the baby developing food allergies."
While breastfeeding is encouraged, DMW understands that some mothers choose not to breastfeed or are unable to, due to a number of reasons. We support all types of feeding and will align your child's routine at the service to their home routine - whether they be breastfeeding, drinking formula or cow's milk. We do encourage the use of a sippy cup once children reach the age of 18 months to promote jaw development and self-help skills.
Babies should start out with small amounts of rice cereal mixed in with breast milk or formula. When these feeds are running smoothly, you can begin to introduce fruit and vegetable purees. A hand-held blender is fantastic for pureeing foods for your baby as you can blend small quantities, plus it's quick and easy to clean up. You can also blend larger quantities and store in ice cube trays in the freezer, then pop out a couple of cubes at a time for your baby's meal.
It's important to remember that all children develop at different times and in different ways. While babies will try almost everything the first time it is offered, some are fussier then others. Its also important to try 1-2 types of foods at a time so you can learn if you child likes them, shows any signs of allergies or irritation (irregular bowl movements or wind) and to make trying new foods an enjoyable experience and journey for your child.
Puree combination ideas include:
Potato and Pumpkin
Apple and Avocado
Peach and Raspberry
Banana and Rockmelon
Apricot and Rice Cereal
Chicken, Zucchini and Parsnip
Apple Yoghurt with Cinnamon
Beef, Carrot and Sweet Potato
The next step: Eating with the family
Once your little one has mastered puréed food (which usually doesn't take very long), they can move onto the same foods that the family is eating. Of course, you will have to modify their serving to make sure it's suitable! Here are some suggestions:
Add most of the flavour (such as spices & seasonings) after you have taken a portion out for your child. They probably won't be into foods with wasabi or chilli just yet!
Use kitchen scissors to make your baby's meal easier to eat. This is a great tip for dishes like spaghetti, where your child will be able to pick up smaller pieces to eat.
All babies (including those with a high-allergy risk) should try allergenic foods within the first year of life. These foods include peanuts, eggs, dairy and gluten products. Introducing allergenic foods early can actually reduce the risk of your child developing an allergy!
As toddlers will often eat earlier than adults, it's a good idea to prepare food that can easily be reheated for the rest of the family. Casseroles, soups, pastas and risottos are all good choices.
"Sometimes, babies and children need to try new foods more than 10 times before they accept them!"
Dishes that the whole family will love:
Beef & Vegetable Casserole
Chicken Fettuccine w/ Corn
Pork Sang Choy Bow
Lentil Bolognese w/ Broccoli
Butter Chicken w/ Rice
Tuna Pasta Bake
Sausages w/ Mashed Potato
The video below is from Tresillian Australia:
At Discover My World ELC, we work with families to support meal introduction in our Nursery. Each meal can be tailored to suit the individual needs of any child, including food allergies and other dietary requirements. We keep families updated throughout the day via our secure parent portal so that they know exactly what their child has eaten that day and if we offered any alternatives to our regular menu. We take great care to provide fresh, delicious meals that are cooked daily by our very own on-site chef!
Find out more at www.discovermyworld.com.au