WHEN TO INTRODUCE SOLIDS

WHEN TO INTRODUCE SOLIDS

25 February

 

Introducing food to your little one is an exciting and messy stage in their development. 

Not only is this a time for your baby to enjoy the adventure of trying interesting and new textures and tastes, but also an opportunity to help shape their ongoing relationship with food as well as providing them with a range of nutrients to support their ongoing development.

 

When?

Weaning refers to the introduction of foods other than breast milk (or infant formula) to a baby. In the UK it is recommended that this process starts at about 6 months of age. In the first 6 months of life, infants can get all the fluids and nutrients they need from breast or infant formula milk. During this time, there is no need to introduce other foods before their digestive system is ready and their swallow reflexes develop.

 

Signs of readiness include:

1. Sitting up: your baby should be able to sit up, supporting their head and maintaining a sturdy, upright position.
2. Chewing: your baby should be able to make a chewing motion. They should be able to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
3. Good coordination: your baby should be able to look at food, grab it and put it in their mouth. 

      Best first foods:

      There really is no one 'best food' to start with, however simple single fruits or vegetables are a good place to begin. Good examples include: steamed apple or ripe pear, no cooked foods: mashed banana or avocado (yummy mixed together), steamed or baked root vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash or parsnip.

       

      These can all either be steamed or baked and either pureed or given in chunks to gum on. 

          After first tastes

          After introducing your little one to those first tastes, it is good to keep offering a wide variety of flavours early on, when they are more willing to try new foods. Great first foods include: soft, well cooked meat, fish, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), fruits, vegetables and cereals.

           

          Portion Sizes

          Every baby is unique, and just as each of us has our own appetite which varies from day to day, your baby will have its own particular appetite which will change each day. Babies have a much stronger sense of self-regulation and it is a good idea to follow this as a guide. Do not force food if they are not interested, simply take it away and try another time. Similarly, if your baby is only interested in one food for a week, and refuses to eat it the next, follow their lead and simply offer it another time.

           

          Things to think about at mealtimes

          1.Offer small amounts of food before milk feeds at meal times. Don’t be surprised if your baby initially spits the food out and appears to dislike it. New tastes and textures take a little getting used to, but babies soon learn to love a variety of flavours.

          2. Always stay with your baby during meals and never leave them alone, as they may choke.

          3. Always make sure children are safely strapped into high chairs.

          4. Never force your baby to eat. Allow them to go at their own pace, to handle the food and start to feed themselves as soon as they wish.

             

            What is ‘baby-led weaning’?

            In baby-led weaning, food is not offered on a spoon. Instead, babies are encouraged to explore for themselves all the food on offer to them and to eat whatever they can get into their mouths independently.

            Go with what you feel comfortable with, try a bit of both or stick with one method, there are lots of websites and books with recipe ideas for both ways. Experiment and see what you and your baby enjoy the most.  Finally, be prepared for mess with both approaches!

             

            First bites and beyond: introducing what, when

            This chart provides a quick reference on what foods you can introduce when in the first year (if allergies are not a concern in your family). If there is a history of allergies in the family, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

             

            Food

            Suitable from 6 months

            Suitable from 1 year

            Bread

            Yes

            Yes

            Mould-ripened soft cheeses

            Yes

            Yes

            Citrus Fruits

            Yes, but be careful with acidity

            Yes

            Coffee & Tea

            No, contains caffeine, making it harder for a baby to absorb iron from food

            Cow’s milk (full fat)

            Not as a drink, can be used in cooking

            Yes, as main a main drink

            Sheep or goat‘s milk

            Not as a drink, but can be used in cooking

            Yes, can be used as main drink

            Eggs

            Yes, but must be cooked through

            Yes, can start introducing soft boiled

            Fizzy Drinks

            No

            Try to avoid until 5 if you can.

            Fruit juice

            Avoid if possible. If you do give your baby fruit juice, dilute it beforehand. Water & milk are the best drinks at this stage

            Again, if you do offer fruit juice to your child, dilute it beforehand. High sugar content is not good for teeth

            Honey

            No, due to risk of infant botulism.

            Yes, but honey is still a sugar, so use in moderation

            Kiwi fruit/ Strawberries

            Yes, check if allergies present

            Yes

            Low fat, low calorie foods

            No. Babies need energy rich foods

            No. Babies need energy rich foods (this applies to around 5 years old)

            Mackerel

            Yes

            Yes

            Prawns

            Yes

            Yes

            Salmon

            Yes

            Yes

            Salt

            No

            Yes, but keep to a minimum (DRV 6-12 months is 1g per day) try herbs or garlic.

            Whole nuts

            No

            No. Don‘t give your child whole nuts until 5, because of the risk of choking (ground, chopped can be introduced after 1).

            Sesame seeds

            Yes. But if history of allergies or your baby has eczema or asthma, speak to your GP or health visitor before trying.

            Peanut / other nut butters

            Yes. But if history of allergies or your baby has eczema or asthma, speak to your GP or health visitor before trying.

            Shark, swordfish or marlin

            No, because they may contain traces of mercury

             

            Whole grain high fibre

            Foods e.g. wholegrain breads, pasta, barley etc.)

            Keep high-fibre wholemeal foods to a minimum as they reduce baby’s absorption of minerals e.g. calcium & iron

            Yes, but give in small amounts and introduce gradually

            Whole nuts

            No

            No. Don‘t give your child whole nuts until 5, because of the risk of choking (ground, chopped can be introduced after 1).