Many infants’ first foray into solid food is baby rice mixed to a smooth runny consistency. While there’s no hard and fast rule as to which foods a baby should try first, it’s best not to put pressure on a tiny digestive system too soon. Opt for mild homemade purees such as pear to start with. Prepare in bulk and freeze into cubes to save time once your baby’s palate gets accustomed to the new regime.
Breast or bottle-feed your baby as normal, then offer him a little puree using a soft-tipped feeding spoon. Start with just a teaspoon once a day. Pick a time of day when your baby is not tired or fussy. Gradually build up the amount of puree letting your baby set the pace. Wait at least three days before introducing a new food type to allow time to detect any signs of allergy and seek medical advice immediately if you are concerned your baby may be having an allergic reaction. Once your baby is used to the smooth stuff move on to thicker consistency mashed or strained foods such as sweet potato and increase the frequency of feeds to twice a day while continuing with milk feeds as normal.
Each stage of weaning requires your baby to master new skills so be patient. Thicker consistency foods will help your baby get used to using his tongue to push the food against the top of his mouth and swallow. The final stage of weaning is the introduction of lumpier finger-foods that your baby can pick up and hold such as salt-free crackers, pieces of soft fruit or even fingers of toast or cooked pasta shapes. If your baby spits out or rejects certain foods, don’t force things. Take it off the menu for a few days and re-introduce later.
By the age of 8 months your baby’s diet should include a mixture of food types including cereal, fruit, veg and small amount of protein such as chicken or lentils. It’s important to encourage babies to feed themselves to help them to develop their fine motor skills and coordination.
It’s also beneficial for baby to take part in family meal times. Seeing others eating a variety of foods may prevent fussy eating traits as they get older too. Offer a selection of baby-friendly finger foods such as banana or mini rice cakes and let your little one investigate with you at the table.
Expect a lot of mess as your baby plays and experiments but make sure you supervise mealtimes.