feeding your baby solids
Feeding baby solids – not exactly my favourite part of babyhood, to be completely honest.
Let’s start at the beginning. Seven years ago, when Che was about seven months old, I noticed he was looking a little yellow, perhaps even a bit orange. Fearing he was jaundice and his liver was failing, I took him straight to my GP who manage to stifle her laughter and diagnosed him with a mild case of beta carotene overdose. I had been feeding him too much pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot and had subsequently turned him into an Oompa Loompa. Needless to say, he ate broccoli, banana and avocado for the entire week afterwards and his skin returned to its normal shade of milky baby. He never really started loving solid food till he was one and while I spent a fair few months fretting that he wasn’t eating enough (or as much as every other baby I knew) I soon realised that it was simply his way of eating; he was a grazer who was quite content to breastfeed in lieu of eating a bowl of mashed avocado.
In my experience, introducing solid foods is a messy case of trial and error. A fair amount of food goes to waste and while it’s quite fascinating to watch your baby explore the texture and taste of food, be prepared for your washing pile to get significantly bigger (a soaking bucket in the laundry sink is an absolute necessity).
So, where to begin? Personally, I always wait till baby is over six months before I introduce solids. Why? I prefer baby to be sitting up, or close to it, as it aids the digestion process. I also serve food at room temperature (or slightly warmed) for the same reason. I keep an eye on baby’s cues too: grabbing for food and watching me (and chewing) while I eat.
I started Che on the token rice cereal but when Poet was little I started with fruits and vegetables. Grains are really difficult to digest so I’m still at a loss as to why they are recommended as the ideal first food. Here’s what I’ve planned for Percy to eat in a few weeks time (inspired by Jude’s Wholefood for Children – a brilliant resource):
– I’ll start with avocado because it’s quite a neutral taste, is available at the local organic store and doesn’t require much preparation (the first few weeks baby will spit out more than they eat)
– I’ll feed him the same food for 3-4 days before I move onto the next. This is the best way to discover if he likes it or has an aversion to it.
– after avocado I’ll feed him banana (and then banana mixed with avocado – always a winning combination). And then: pumpkin, apple, kumera etc
When it comes to puree and mash versus baby led weaning I’m quite open to trying everything. Che gagged on almost every food I gave hime whilst Poet didn’t have much of a problem at all. I’ll follow Percy’s lead and go from there: pureed pumpkin, mashed avocado and a lamp chop – I’ll give it all a go.
As for necessary feeding tools? It’s best to be prepared with the essentials and leave everything else behind. In my opinion, here’s what you need:
– a spoon, cup, plate and bowl for baby – use it now and for the next few years of toddlerhood. I love the bambu range from Nature’s Child, this gorgeous all-in-one bamboo set (it comes in blue, too) and these divided plates (because toddlers love eating bite-size pieces in separate sections – trust me on this one).
– a sippy cup. I love the spill-proof, stainless steel range from Thermos where you can buy replacement lids (because that spout is going to get chewed).
– freezer pods with a lid to keep pre-made food nice a safe or alternatively, use these glass storage containers (perfect size for baby).
– reusable sachets for puree on the go
– a pile of teatowels and bibs because you’ll need a lot of them.
– a blender or puree stick to effectively turn food to mush.
But just know this: it’s best not to stress about what you baby is or isn’t eating. Some babies will devour a bowl of food at four months and others won’t really develop a taste for it till their first birthday. One baby may love a bowl of pureed vegetables and the other will smash a few stalks of blanched broccoli.
Take it day by day, vegetable by vegetable and be prepared to have mashed something or other thrown in your face, on the floor and spread all over baby’s head. And if you don’t have the time or the inclination to make you baby’s food from scratch? For goodness sake do not let motherguilt come into it. The supermarkets have a great range of organic baby food in pouches and they are perfect for those first few fussy months and beyond. I always keep a few in the pantry for days when time is evaporating and baby is demanding.