Bubs first foods

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Feeding your baby for the first time is important for the development and growth. As your child continues to thrive, changing the different textures and food variations is necessary. After 6 months, babies need more iron and zinc which is not found in breastmilk or formula, also appetites are difficult to satisfy with only milk.

Remember, commencing solids does not mean replacing breastmilk or formula. Studies have suggested to continue to breast/formula feed along with solids for the first 12 months of life.

It can be confusing when to move from purees, to finger foods to firmer foods, I have formulated a guideline to help with introducing your babies first foods. As mentioned earlier, every baby grows and develops differently so this is just a general guide for introducing solids.

Important Note:

  • Introduce solids slowly. All babies are different and progress at a different pace.
  • Be cautious about choking. Always watch your baby when he/she is eating.
  • Honey should not be introduced before 12 months (due to risk of infant botulism (bacterial contamination).

Step 1: The First Spoonful (Usually around 6 months)

  • Offer smooth/puree foods and start with 1 single food such as infant rice cereal which can be mixed with breastmilk or formula (it is bland and packed with iron!). Rice cereal can be found at your local supermarket, below are a few options:

     B_Rice_125gPouch_319_600x600Cerelac-Rice-Cereal1231989

  • Start with 1 teaspoon of solids/day. It is a good idea to offer solids after a breastfeed or formula feed. Gradually build to 2 teaspoons and start to offer 2 times per day aiming for 3 meals per day along with your babies pace.
  • It is important to look out for signs of intolerance or allergies such as vomiting, diarrhoea or rashes. At times this will not occur straight away. If you do notice changes in your bub when starting solids, please seek professional medical advice.
  • Trying the same new food for 2-4 days (adding to existing diet) will allow your baby to get used to the textures and tastes.
  • Other pureed foods to introduce are: vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, carrot and zucchini; fruit such as cooked apple, pear, melon and banana.
  • Do not add solids to bottles as babies need to learn the difference between solids and fluids.
  • Not necessary to add flavours to the solids such as salt, sugar or spices
  • I tell mum’s to make a big batch of a wide variety of frozen fruit and vegetables and store them in ice-cube containers in the freezer, makes life a lot easier!

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Step 2: Around 7-8 months 

  • Once your baby is eating the above foods, it is now very important to start adding higher protein and iron rich foods in their diet and also changing to a thicker consistency.
  • For example: well cooked meats (red meat, poultry, fish), cooked egg, lentils, baked beans and even pasta, rice or cous cous
  • At each meal aim for 2-3 different foods, at least 1 x protein, 1 x carbohydrate and 1 x vegetable or fruit. Try to offer separately to allow your bub to differentiate and develop food preferences.

Your bub’s plate should resemble somewhat below:

Click here to view a sample menu

Step 3: Around 9-10 months 

  • Your bub should now be eating a significant range of foods including, meat, vegetables and fruit. It is recommended to continue with breast milk or formula for milk intake, and cow’s milk should not be introduced yet, as your baby needs the nutrients found in breast milk and formula.
  • Start to offer solids prior to milk feeds to allow for increased intake as your baby needs the nutrients found from solids
  • You can now introduced full fat dairy foods e.g. yoghurt, grated cheese or pasteurised cows milk in main meals and deserts
  • Offer cooled boiled water and avoid fruit juice
  • Your baby should be starting to develop fine motor skills and I would encourage experimenting with small finger foods and family foods to promote self feeding.

Example of finger foods:

Table Foods new copy

The final stages at 12 months 

  • Your bub should be eating most of your family foods, make sure they are cut into small pieces and keep encouraging self feeding. If your baby is slow to feed, continue to encourage to self feed with some assistance to ensure all meals are consumed
  • Make sure your bub is eating from all 5 food groups and having a wide variety of foods
  • After 12 months, cows milk can be introduced and there is no need for formula or breast milk, always offer solids before milk

Click here to view a sample menu

Introducing Solids

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Introducing solids is a exciting and wonderful time for mums and bubs. However, it is normal to feel confused about introducing solids to your little ones. This is because mothers feel overwhelmed by conflicting information and advice by health professionals, health authorities/organisations, books and internet searches. When I started working, I also felt overwhelmed with all the information.

Below, I have listed the most important areas that I think need to be addressed when introducing solids to your bubs.

1. What age should I start introducing solids?
The  World Health Organisation the National Health and Medical Research and Australian Breastfeeding Association currently recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding  (no other food or drink) and then the introduction of solids while breastfeeding continues. 

2. Does introducing solids before 4 months or after 6 months lead to food allergies?
It is strongly recommended that solids are not introduced before four months of age, as a baby’s system is still immature. At this age, the digestive system, immune system, kidneys and ability to chew and swallow are not yet fully developed or ready for solids and can lead other illness.

There is a lot of current research being conducted when to introduce solids and the reduction of food allergies. Unfortunately, there is no answer or solution for this relationship of introducing solids and allergies. No study has shown that delaying allergenic foods beyond 6 months results is a lower risk of allergy – rather the opposite. However, there have been no studies where babies were exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then introduced to solids. There is current research being conducted in Australia and the UK to find out why there has been a sudden increase in children becoming allergic to foods.

3. Readiness for solids…
From personal experiences, I have met a lot of mothers that are caught up with research, books and information from health professionals about the timing of introducing solids. However, just like adults, every baby is different, it might just be looking at your baby and their signs for their readiness to introduce solids.

Visual Cues:

  • Showing an interest in food, including what’s on your plate – babies might also start putting their fingers in their mouths
  • An increased appetite for breastfeeds or formula
  • Opening mouth when food is offered on a spoon
  • Good head and neck control, and the ability to sit upright when supported

I love to show mum’s this picture to know whether their bub is ready for solids:

Ready for solids pics

Look out for what first foods should be introduced….