Starting your baby on solids should be a time of great excitement and joy, not to mention comic photo moments! Unfortunately, for many parents like myself, it ends up being a time of confusion, anxiety and frustration thanks to a search engine filled with contradictory information and a barrage of advice from every corner. When is the right time to start my baby on solids? How do I start my baby on solids? What solids should I start my baby on? The list of questions I asked myself could go on and on. I needed some guidance! I decided to ask Clamber Club Expert Samantha Schoeman, who owns BabaGrub, a company that creates some of the best quality baby foods out there. She gave me some amazing tips!
This is what she suggested to help me navigate through some very sticky waters!
Their health is in your hands
According to scientists, the first 1 000 days of your baby’s life set the tone for their future well-being. This means that the nutrition that your baby receives from conception to two years of age will influence their nutrition habits and preferences for the rest of their life and, importantly, their health. As a parent, it is therefore essential to lay healthy building blocks and provide our children with the best in life. But where to begin?
WHEN to start baby on solids
Traditionally, the rule of thumb has been to start solids at 6 months. However, new guidelines recommend that you can safely start your baby on solids at 4–6 months, unless you have been advised otherwise by your paediatrician for medical reasons.
Knowing when your baby is ready for solids is not just about how old she is. It is also important to look out for certain developmental milestones that will confirm that she is ready to make the switch from liquids to solids.
Samantha believes that the saying, ‘watch your baby, not your calendar’ is so appropriate. There are very specific signs that will indicate when your baby is ready for solids, including:
• Good head control;
• Sitting well when supported;
• Growing appetite (still hungry after a full day’s portion of milk);
• Food curiosity; and
• Losing the tongue thrust reflex – i.e. pushing everything that is put in his mouth back out!
HOW do I start baby on solids?
Generally, experts advise parents to start baby off with puréed or semi-liquid food, followed by strained or mashed food, and then small pieces of finger foods. Whatever your choice, it is always best to go for SLOW foods: Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole. Your baby’s digestive system is underdeveloped and extremely sensitive. By offering natural, organic and unprocessed foods, you help to protect that fragile balance
Samantha believes that it is also important to ensure that your baby’s food is prepared as ‘cleanly’ as possible. Steaming, baking and oven roasting help to preserve the natural nutrients in the food.
WHAT solids do I feed baby first?
Ideal first foods are root vegetables such as sweet potato, potato and carrots, as well as squashes like butternut, gem squash and baby marrows. Your baby will automatically prefer food that is sweet which is why you would want to introduce as many varieties of vegetable as possible before introducing deciduous fruit (apples and pears).
Don’t forget about the ‘new food every three to four days’ rule. Allowing this waiting period provides the opportunity to check baby’s reaction to the new food. This won’t necessarily be a huge ‘allergic event’ but could be something as simple as tummy cramps, wheezing or a rash around the mouth. Should you be concerned that your child is having a severe reaction that could indicate an allergy, seek medical help immediately. Although this is extremely unusual, it is better to play it safe!
And remember, don’t get too caught up with all the baby books and guidelines – meal times should be happy times! Enjoy making memories together as a family…and don’t forget the camera for all those special messy moments!