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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Campbell

Starting solids - where do I start?

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Knowing when to start giving your baby foods beyond simply milk can feel like a minefield. Your gran insists mashed potatoes and gravy is necessary at twelve weeks. Auntie Jeanie wants you to give cooled boiled water. That person on Instagram says if you do anything other than let them have a free run at all the foods you eat as a family, they won't develop properly.

Lets break it down a bit.

First things first - when does your baby need to have food that isn't milk?

For most babies, they are ready for other foods around six months. When they are ready they will be able to :

  • Sit and hold their head steady

  • Pick up food, bring it to their mouth and take a bite

  • Put food in their mouth without spitting it back out (the tongue thrust reflex)

At this stage, we can introduce a range of foods, because their gut has matured with them, and closed the gaps that were present at birth that allowed big proteins to pass into their bloodstream.

There are also some signs that don't mean your baby is ready for solids, though they are often given as reasons:

  • A big baby

  • Night waking

  • Watching you eat

  • Eating their hands

  • Having allergies

So what do I feed my baby?

Introducing your baby to a range of family foods at this stage can be a lot of fun. It's a good idea to avoid very processed foods, like ready meals or pre-packaged snacks. Foods that are sweetened or salty also aren't ideal.

The key foods to avoid are whole nuts, or chunks of raw foods like apple, as they can be a choking hazard, and honey. Some babies find high fibre food tricky, and get a bit constipated.

Your baby doesn't need to have prepared food from jars or pouches, though these can absolutelybe convenient at times. Check the ingredient list on these - some are simply whole ingredients - apple, banana and spinach for example. Others may include additives like stabilisers, emulsifiers, sweeteners and so on, which aren't beneficial.

What about Baby Led Weaning vs Purees?

There are pros and cons to both of these that will hold different weight for every family.

Baby led weaning broadly consists of giving your baby a choice of foods that they can play with, eat, smoosh or throw! The philosophy is that the baby will learn about textures, flavours and learn how to chew, bite and handle food before they consume large quantities. It fits well with a responsive feeding approach, as the baby is making the choices and can move onto new things at their own pace. The downsides can be that it is messy and there is more food waste involved.

Purees are probably what you were weaned onto - simple fruits or vegetables, blended to a smooth consistency, that the caregiver spoons into the baby's mouth. This method tends to lead to larger quantities of food being consumed, and is more within the control of the parents. It may however mean that the baby is less able to get in tune with it's hunger and appetite cues. It's also time consuming to make seperate meals for the baby and feed them.

In reality, most families use a mixture of finger foods, spoon fed meals and letting their baby play - like all things feeding, it's rarely binary.

What about other drinks?

Before your baby is a year old, their usual milk (breast or formula) and water are the only drinks they need. Squash, fruit juice, follow on milks, plant milks etc are unnecessary. Offering water with their meals in a free flowing cup is a great way for them to explore a new way to drink. They can do it in the bath too, while they work out how water works!

If you'd like more information about feeding your baby, First Steps Nutrition are an amazing, non industry funded organisation who publish guides for parents like this one:

If you want to talk through your plans for introducing your baby, feel free to schedule a call with me.

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