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.
- 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:
- 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!
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:
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