The introduction of solid foods to your baby's diet is a gradual process on the path to growing up. You will want to give them the best chance of learning good habits early and getting all the nutrients they need as their taste preferences change and develop
Start graduallyBe prepared to be patient. There will be a bit more preparation involved with feeding times to begin with and your baby needs to have the appetite and interest to eat.
Start simpleIt is best to start with a simple food. Many parents feed their baby something that they are unlikely to be allergic to, such as rice cereal, apple sauce, bananas or potato.
Don't add the food to a bottleWean your baby off bottles and eating while reclined. Get them used to the idea of sitting up and using utensils, even if you are spoon feeding them liquid foods.
Choose your weaponsWhen choosing your utensils, pick a soft plastic or silicon spoon. You'll want to put a bib on your baby, have wipes handy and even possibly a change of clothes.
Pick your time of dayWhen introducing a new behaviour to infants, it's always best to catch them in a good mood – not at the end of the day when they're tired, for example. Start with one feeding of solids a day and make it part of your breast or formula feeding routine.
Mush it and mix itPuree and mix the food and make sure that if it's heated you've stirred it through and tested the temperature. Don't add salt or sugar to the food as this can influence your baby's future taste preferences.
WatchObserve how your baby reacts. Babies might take longer to swallow as they learn, so don't rush the process. But babies who turn their heads, purse their lips or push back in their seats might have had enough.
WaitIt is recommended that with each new food you introduce you wait three days before trying another to see whether there are any negative reactions, as an allergy might indicate.
PersevereAs with the introduction of anything new, there is always the chance of resistance. But remember this is a natural process of development and learning, so have a good sense of humour about it and your baby will pick up on your mood.
TransitionAlthough you will start with pureed and semi-liquid foods, eventually you'll transition to more solid consistencies. Next will come mashed foods (think mashed potato or banana mushed up with a fork) and then small, bite-sized morsels, about the size of their pinky fingertip. Eventually, around 12 months, most mothers stop breast or formula feeding and have their babies on solids entirely. However, this is an individual choice.
Have fun!Play the aeroplane, eat with your baby, talk them through the process – this is a whole new set of skills and language that they get to learn, so make the most of the experience and have the camera ready for when they inevitably end up wearing their lunch!
Tips and hints
- Don't give honey to infants under 12 months, who are susceptible to botulism
- Eventually offer a variety of foods to your child to encourage an appreciation of different flavours
- Due to their altered diet, your baby's stool will naturally change in smell and consistency. Don't be alarmed
- Some of the symptoms of allergic reactions include rashes, hives, wheezing, excessive gas, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you have concerns, consult a paediatrician
- If using baby food jars, don't feed your baby directly from the jar. Don't keep baby food more than 48 hours
- Avoid home-preparing the following vegetables: carrots, spinach, beetroot, squash and green beans. The high levels of nitrates present in these vegetables can cause anaemia in babies under 12 months. Jarred versions of the above are tested by manufacturers and are ok to feed your infant