What You Need to Know About Starting Solids
Is your baby ready to start solids? The experts at Future Foody cover everything you need to know so you can be prepared for this exciting next step!
7 min read
Starting solids is an important step for moulding a child’s food preferences and eating habits and we must ensure we are nourishing our babies. However, this can be a confusing time too so we are here to hold your hand and help, as you navigate through this stage with your little one.
Check out our guidance below to get you started.
When to start solids with your baby
Your baby will show signs that they are ready for solids around 4-6 months. The Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation recommendations are: “Around the age of 6 months, an infants energy and nutritional needs start to exceed what is provided by milk, and complementary foods are necessary to meet those needs. An infant of this age is also developmentally ready for other foods”.
The decision to start solids needs to be made by parents or primary caregivers in accordance to their own baby’s needs, so forget what your neighbours’ baby is doing and keep an eye out for the following signs to help guide you in making this decision.
Your baby may be ready for solids if they can:
- hold their head steady
- sit with help
- make chewing motions and have lost their tongue extrusion reflex
- show great interest in what you eat
- are becoming less satisfied with milk feeds
How often to feed your baby
Start by offering a small amount of food after a milk feed. Then around 6-8 months, your baby will be working towards 2-3 solid meals per day.
Your baby’s appetite will vary from day to day in accordance with how they are feeling, any distractions, the time of the day, breastmilk and/or formula intake, if they are going through a growth spurt, if they are teething or unwell and the type and composition of foods they are eating.
At some mealtimes, they may eat less than others. Don’t be discouraged by this, just remember it’s their total intake over an entire week which is important.
Let your baby lead the way
This means letting your baby either self-feed and eat how much they would like (without coaxing to eat more or taking away food if they are not done) or paying close attention to their cues if you are spoonfeeding …or a mixture of both!
Your baby will show you that they are done eating in their own unique way which may be turning their head away, swatting at the spoon, throwing it on the floor, zipping their lips shut, or letting you know with their little (or not so little!) voice.
Breastmilk and/or formula will remain the main source of nutrients for the initial weeks and months. The introduction of solid food is a fun, experimental period where your babe gets to try a wide variety of foods, textures and flavours so they are more readily accepted as they grow up.
Touching, licking, mushing, squashing, playing with their food and hearing you talk to them about it is all part of the process of learning to love new foods and it is completely normal! Try not to get discouraged during this process, be patient and keep introducing foods in a fun nonpressured way. Your baby will learn to eat well in their own time.
What food to feed first
Our 21 day solids program backed by our expert child Nutritionist, Larissa Beeby, has been created to nourish your baby’s tummy, support optimal brain development, help build a strong immune system and pathways, create a healthy gut, and encourage positive healthy habits and food preferences.
Our meals are not only nutritionally dense but they are fresh, organic, spray-free with no added sugar or salt. The range of flavours and textures across the three stages will also help develop their sensory and motor skills and feed your baby’s curiosity. Our interesting flavour combinations and incorporation of herbs and spices are great for palate development and creating your own #futurefoody.
There is evidence that babies who are exposed to a wide range of foods and flavours early on will accept a wider range of foods later in life and are less likely to become fussy eaters.
Recognise potential choking hazards
Small, hard and round foods, as well as sticky solids, can block your baby’s airways. Compressible foods such as popcorn and sausages are also a hazard. You will know best what your child is capable of eating but as a guide make sure that hard foods such as vegetables are grated or cooked, pits are removed from fruits, grapes or cherry tomatoes are cut in half, nut butters are spread thinly and stringy foods such as pineapple or celery are finely chopped.
Don’t worry – gagging is normal
Gagging is a normal reflex babies have as they learn to eat solids. Gagging brings food forward into your baby’s mouth so they can chew it some more first or try to swallow a smaller amount. Your baby should gag less often as they develop and learn to regulate the amount of food they swallow.
It’s ok if your baby spits their food out
As your baby starts to try new foods and tastes, they may make funny faces (albeit entertaining to begin with!). Be patient, respond positively and keep trying. Often children need repeated exposure (sometimes 10-15 times!) before embracing a new flavour or texture.
If your baby doesn’t like a certain flavour, we encourage you to try another flavour and then the next day or in a few days try that tricky one again and chances are they will come to love it! Everyone will take to solids in their own time. #nomoremumguilt
We know it is often more time efficient to feed your baby separately, but they actually learn by watching others eat and learn eating is social. So pull the high chair up to the table as much as possible. To begin with, pick a time when your baby is most relaxed. Often this is mid-morning, a perfect time for you to sit down and enjoy a snack together. You might even get a chance to have a hot cup of coffee (gasp!).
Be ready to get messy!
Feeding your baby is messy! You will wipe their face, hands and clean their highchair multiple times a day! However when your baby is interacting with food, this is where the magic happens, so embrace the mess and remember it can all be cleaned up (this is where a dog comes in handy)!
Get everything you need to start solids
Are you and your baby ready to start solids? If so, check out [the five things you need] to get started.