This post is by contributor Kate Fairlie of Picklebums.
New and exciting things are taking place at our dining table these days. The smallest Pickle is beginning to move from the world of milk, milk and more milk to the wonderful world of food!
There is lots of advice out there about when and how to start babies on solid foods. Our Maternal & Child Health Nurse tells me new research says to start solids at 4 months, some people say rice cereal from 6 months, and others ‘don’t spoon feed, let your baby feed themselves’.
I am not an all or nothing kind of person and after four kids I usually go with the ‘what works for you’ method for most things. So here is what works for us….
When did we start solids?
I don’t believe there is any magic age when all children are ready to start solids. Being ready is an individual thing and it has happened at different ages for all my babies. I also take into consideration when I am ready to start on this journey!
At four months of age, Noah enjoyed sitting in the high chair with us at meal times, but he wasn’t at all interested in food. He still had a strong tongue thrust reflex and anything he tried he just spat straight back out again.
At almost 6 months of age he had mastered the art of picking up objects and bringing them to his mouth and the tongue thrust had disappeared, but he still wasn’t very interested in actually eating food. Food was fun to play with and mush up in his fingers and spoons made a fun toy to chew on.
Now, at seven months old, he’s suddenly decided he quite likes the idea of eating food and he can’t get enough.
What do we feed him?
I’m a big believer in K.I.S.S – Keep it simple stupid! So Noah eats whatever we have on hand that is appropriate.
Fresh foods that are easily mashed and spoon fed: I don’t fuss around with pureeing foods, if he can’t eat it whole I mash it up with a fork. Even little babies can cope with a few lumps here and there. Noah eats a variety of vegetables that the rest of us are having for dinner (pumpkin, sweet potato etc), and foods like avocado and banana which are easily portable, fresh, instant baby food.
Finger food: There are lots of foods that our family regularly eat that work well as finger food. Roast potato chips, roast carrots, steamed broccoli florets. Offer them roughly the size of your baby’s fist and let them chomp away.
Food that a toothless baby can safely suck/chew on: Noah loves food that he is able to hold on to and suck and chew on. He loves corn cobs, after we’ve eaten off all the corn and large whole raw carrots. Since he has no teeth (and none on the way either) he can’t bite off little bits that he could choke on like an older, more toothy baby could and the cold surface is very soothing on his gums.
Mesh Bag Baby Feeder: We got one of these handy dandy ‘mesh bag baby feeder’ thingy’s for Muski when he was starting solids and it is the only fancy bit of baby feeding paraphernalia that we use. It has a little mesh bag at one end that you pop the food in and a handle at the other, so baby can chew and suck away on almost any food without any fear of choking. Noah loves any kind of fruit in his, and it’s a quick and easy way to offer him food when the rest of the kids are eating.
Is he getting enough?
That’s something I used to worry about when I did this the first time around, but these days I am not so bothered by ‘how much’ or ‘how often’. Breast milk is still Noah’s primary source of food. Meal times are more about exploration and enjoyment rather than hunger and nutrition.
Eating is about joining in with the rest of the family and being part of that important social tradition of sharing a meal. It is about trying new things, discovering how foods taste and feels squished between his fingers. It is about practising new skills like picking up and grasping items and bringing them to his mouth.
I feel it’s important to make food and eating joyful and stress free for everyone. Everyone in our family is enjoying helping out and watching as Noah tries new things, learns and loves food.
What was your approach to introducing solids? What worked for you?
Some interesting links and further information;
- Guidelines for implementing a baby-led approach to the introduction of solid food by Gill Rapley
- Starting Solid Foods at AskDrSears.com
- Eating Tips for Babies from the Better Health Channel Vic