Solids: the good, the bad, and the gravy

The road to feeding your baby solids is a life-changing one – it can be nerve-wracking, delightful, messy, very messy, and rewarding. It’s a necessary milestone for your baby to reach and one that sets the stage for future tastes and dining enjoyment.

 

At around 6 months, your baby will no longer be getting enough nutrition from your breast milk or formula – if you’re breast feeding, for example, the iron levels drop significantly. Your sleep patterns will be interrupted further because your baby is no longer satiated by an evening feed to carry him through to 2am.

Butternut is a great ‘first food’ for baby.

There are two approaches you can choose from: traditional weaning or baby-led weaning. Traditional weaning is when you purée/mash food up for your little one and then feed him with a spoon. Baby-led weaning is when you forego the purée altogether and move straight onto finger foods to allow your baby to feed himself. Whichever you decide, we all fear choking. Some great information our paediatrician gave us is that babies will gag when they are exposed to different textures. This gagging is not a bad thing as it assists in preparing your baby’s pallet for these varying textures that different foods have – allowing for your baby not to be fussy about diverse consistencies. Figuring out the distinction between choking and gagging can be disturbing for a parent, but the good thing is that you will know which is which – trust me. As parents, we need to keep in mind that before solids, our babies have only been exposed to liquid food, so the change in nourishment is vast and an adjustment we must be patient with. Some babies take to solid food like ducks to water, but others don’t, and enduring this nutritional conversion is one that is necessary for everybody’s sanity and peace of mind.

 

We also need to be kind to ourselves, as the shift for us is one that is large as well. As a first-time parent, you may be trying to figure out the right consistency of the purée for your baby, as well as trying not to put your child off a type of food (e.g. potatoes) so that you can use this food in many future meals. I think the key as a parent is to be comfortable in what and how you’re feeding your baby – less stress for you means less stress for your baba.

 

Our paed gave us the following guidelines for breaking up the quantities of each meal for a baby up until the age of 12 months:

These categories include:

Animal Protein: Carbohydrates: Vegetables:
·    Red meat ·    Cereal ·    All those good earthy
·    White meat ·    Potatoes greens and oranges and
·    Egg (cooked) ·    Rice yellows
·    Oily fish – sardines being ·    Pasta
the best option here ·    Dairy
·    Fruit

 

The focus should be on providing meals that give texture, flavour and variety. Don’t add any salt, sugar, stock or honey, and don’t give your baby sushi or raw egg.

 

When it comes to finger foods, there are four simple questions to ask when figuring out how appropriate they are for your baby:

  1. Does it melt in my mouth?
  2. Is it pea-sized?
  3. Does it mush easily?
  4. Can it be gummed?

Some fantastic finger foods include avo, mango, peas, grated cheese, banana, scrambled egg and pasta.

Self-feeding promotes fine motor skills.

Some truths about feeding your baby solids:

  • Don’t start out with solids when your baby is hungry (ravenous) and/or in a bad mood. This will only make the whole process that much more stressful and unpleasant for both of you.
  • If your baby doesn’t want to eat, you can’t force him.
  • Your baby will eat when he is hungry. If today he’s eaten every scrap of food you’ve fed him at every sitting, and then hardly touches anything tomorrow, that’s OK. You’ll find that everything balances out in the week with feeds and the amount that your baby eats.
  • Have a backup plan. Sometimes your baby won’t be interested in the chicken, beans and rice you’ve blended up for him, because you fed it to him for supper yesterday, and lunch the day before that. If he’s had enough of a certain ‘type’ of food for the week, then having a backup in your pantry or cupboard always helps. My baby’s crèche teacher advised me to always have some baby cereal around in case this happens – at least if he shows interest in this, his tummy will not be empty. Having a few bottles or tubs of ‘ready to go’ purée handy is also a good idea. Whatever your preferred brand, your baby’s stomach will be grateful.
  • You do not need fancy bowls to serve your baby food in – an old Butro tub will do. But having a good spoon to feed your baby with is key.
  • And as with feeding breast milk or formula, the time after your baby has eaten is not the best to have tummy time or to spin your child around while you play. I learnt this the hard way after feeding my son yoghurt and ended up smelling like an off cheese platter.
  • Always be sure to keep an eye out for allergic reactions.

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