Welcoming your Baby to the Table:
Starting your baby on solid food may seem a little daunting, but don’t worry. It will all come together. Remember, nobody knows your baby better than you do so you’ll soon find your pace.
When to start? At about 6 months of age. Not before 17 weeks and no later than 6 months. This is the same for both breastfed and bottle fed babies, as a baby’s kidneys and digestive system are not mature enough to handle food and drinks other that milk before 17 weeks. Starting solids by 6 months gives your baby the opportunity to learn important skills such as self feeding and the introduction of textures stimulates the development of muscles involved in speech.
The exact timing of when to start is down to your baby so watch out for signs of readiness. You will notice that a little pair of eyes starts to eye up your food as you eat; your baby is chewing and/or dribbling more; she’s able to sit up well with some support; and she may be looking for bigger or more frequent milk feed because she’s hungry. It’s time to bring on the food!
Stage 1 (4-6months): Start with 1 teaspoon of food made into a puree and build up to 6 teaspoons at one time. Then introduce second mealtime up to 6 teaspoons and then progress to 3 meals a day.
Stage 2 (6-9months): 3 meals a day with about 2-4 tablespoons of mashed food per meal with finger food offered between meals.
Stage 3 (9-12 months) three meals a day with about 4-6 tablespoons per meal with finger food offered between meals.
The very first foods need to be easy to digest and the texture should be runny and smooth. They should be pureed vegetable and fruit so a hand blender will be your best purchase! Some foods are best avoided until your baby is over 12 months of age. These include salt, sugar, honey, undercooked eggs, unpasteurised cheese, whole or chopped nuts.
Babies are very receptive to new tastes so try adding small amounts of herbs and spices to your cooking. The more foods your baby is exposed to the greater likelihood that she will be eating a variety of nutritious foods when she’s older.
Starting solids is messy business but between catapulting carrot off the kitchen walls and mashing apple puree in their hair, enjoy the fun of watching your baby’s reaction to new tastes and textures.
For more information on weaning and some recipe ideas for your little gastronome, check out www.loveparenting.ie