Baby’s first solid food can trigger a mixed and sometimes quite emotional response for many parents. One the one hand, it’s an exciting time full of new learning experiences for both you and your child and on the other, it can have a tinge of sadness as you face the reality of your child getting older and eventually leaving their babyhood behind.
But there’s not many things cuter than the sight of a baby enjoying their first taste of something really yummy…so remember, this is a fun and exciting time!
When do babies need solids?
NHS guidelines state that babies get most of the nutrients they need from breast milk or from formula up to the age of about 6 months.
If you wait until your baby is completely ready to eat solids, you will find that it’s much easier to manage feeding time as they have developed enough to manage the actions required, such as feeding themselves and swallowing effectively.
Some parents think that babies who chew their fists or stare at their parents’ plate, are showing early signs of wanting or needing solids before the recommended age. But these are normal behaviours and feeding infants too soon can cause issues with digestion.
So the best advice is wait until your baby reaches 6 months and then you can go shopping for that gorgeous high chair and feeding bowl!
What is the best first food for baby?
It’s very important to remember to introduce new foods one at a time so that you can monitor your baby. Some babies might have a reaction to certain foods, so only offer one new food in 24 hours. That way, if the baby reacts negatively, you can be certain what caused it.
Some foods need extra attention and they include the following;
- Cows’ milk
- Anything containing gluten
- Foods containing nuts (remember no whole nuts for children under 4 years old due to the risk of choking)
- Fish and shellfish
It’s better to offer plain foods to begin with so as to minimise the risk of a reaction. Here are some good ideas for first foods;
- Steamed pear (ensure it is completely soft and cool before offering)
- Steamed or boiled sweet potato. Mash well and offer on a spoon
- Steamed or baked apple
- Soft peach
- Cooked and mashed carrots
Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t add salt or use stock cubes to anything your baby is going to eat. This can pose a serious health risk
- Do allow your baby to touch the food you’re offering. Touching helps the baby to understand the food more and to learn about what is edible and what isn’t
- Don’t try to force your child to finish off the bowl of food. Many babies just taste a little bit of what’s on offer and aren’t interested in full meals
- Do try again with foods your baby seems to reject. It can take many attempts before a baby feels ready to eat something which has a stronger taste
- Do allow your baby to hold some food and eat it alone. Babies can manage finger foods well if allowed to. Always stay with your baby whilst they are eating
Now you feel more confident about feeding your baby, it might be time to shop for some special bibs! Feeding times are fun but messy!