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.

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Showing 15 comments
  • Mother Down Under

    At nine months, we are still experimenting with solids. My first was happy for me to spoon feed him various purees and other soft foods whilst also feeding himself toast and fruit. Lydia will not let me near her with a spoon. So the process is slower. I tend to just give her whatever we are having always supplemented with some roasted sweet potatoes (she loves them). She is starting at child care soon though so I am anxious to get her eating a bit more as I would say she still gets at least eighty percent of her nutrition from breast milk!
    Oh and I have also set myself a rule of only cleaning the high chair and kitchen floor once a day…otherwise I spend my entire day cleaning up after her snacking sessions! Letting is go has improved my outlook towards solids!

  • Carie

    Oh no, poor Che! Does he have excellent night vision?! I love Wholefood for Children, I found a copy in our library and had it out so many times I eventually caved and bought my own. I love the jam splat cookies. I've always done BLW with my three, and with Pip I think if that hadn't been the plan anyway his sisters love giving him bits of their food!

  • Sophie Isobel

    Oh such a great post Jodi! Goodness me, no one quite prepares you for the fun and craziness solids bring. Tallow never really liked mashed food, and we were so worried she wasn't eating enough. I wish someone had told me to calm down. She's a grazer too and likes really simple food. Some days she eats heaps, some days not a whole lot. Avo is still a winner, always and when she was seven or eight months, our homegrown broad beans were a hit too. It really is a day at a time, actually it still is and she's nearly two. These days through, I'm so glad to be not as stressed or worried, she's certainly not fading away. Hahaha! xx

  • Malayka

    Interesting post. Oh my goodness I had to laugh about the cerotene, I'm sure you're not the first parent to do that! We only did baby led weaning with our daughter and she basically just ate everything we did right from 6 months. She probably didn't really start eating solids properly until about 9 months though (totally boob obsessed!). So this time around I think we'll probably do a combination of puree and whole foods. Anyway thank you for the tips, I'll be sure to look back on them in 6 months. x

  • Amanda K.

    Grains (rice cereal, oatmeal) are recommended as a first food because they're iron fortified. Babies are born with iron stores from the womb, and by 6 mos they're depleted. Most moms don't feed lamb chops, so the cereals are an important alternative.
    I'm with you, though! I always give my littles a cleaned chicken bone to gnaw on. They love it.

  • Anna

    I've started my baby on solids, and he is doing his own self feeding. I love the idea of mixing the avocado and banana. I've also been mixing apples and carrots, which my little one loves. Thank you for the book reference too!

    XX Anna of The Analog House

  • Audrey

    Great advice – what I love is how different all babies are. My son happily ate mash before any 'table' food well past his first birthday, my daughter woke up at 11 months & flatly refused anything that she perceived as baby food…she would only eat (or at least throw on the floor!) what we were eating. Both started at 4 months, although I intended to wait with my daughter until later…then she stole my toast so I figured she was ready! Such a fun stage if you you go with the flow 🙂

  • dear olive

    Jodi I can't recommend starting with a softly boiled egg yolk highly enough! It gives the baby much needed fats/cholesterol for all their cells and growing brain, and also iron. I really feel like it was such a top way to introduce food with C. Kellie xx PS Nourishing traditions for babies and toddlers have a lot of information on it

    • Jodi

      I didn't think eggs were recommended till 12months+. Tell me more! x

    • dear olive

      Yes – egg whites aren't recommended because the protein can cause an allergic reaction, but according to the Weston A Price school of thought, the yolk isn't a problem. Here's a link to an article outlining their philosophy … http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nourishing-a-growing-baby/ xxxx

    • Gaby

      We started Clementine on runny egg yolk as well and she loved it! And she was eating whole eggs well before turning 1… Will definitely do the same with this baby xx

  • Brianna Blacklock

    Do you remember if Che's gagging eased up by a certain age? My 8mo old son prefers eating solids over milk, but even the smallest lump causes him to gag. I am super paranoid about him choking due to a very scary situ involving the same thermos you recommended (I hadn't realized the tiny silver manufacturer's sticker stuck to the bottom of the cup posed a threat, actually I didn't think of it at all or notice it was even there (lesson learned!) and he apparently pulled it off while in the stroller and put it in his mouth during our walk. He started acting funny on our return trip, coughing/choking here and there but I didn't think to look in his mouth because he only had access to his sippy cup and all the parts appeared intact.. but when we got home he wouldn't eat and when I laid him on his back to change his diaper he quit breathing. He opened his mouth out of sheer panic and that's when I saw this little silver thing in the way back of my baby's throat! I was somehow able to sweep it out with my index finger and everything ended up being fine, but I traced it back to the Thermos. Do make sure that sticker is off! Scariest situation of my life! That being said, I am wondering how long this whole gagging thing might last?

    • Jodi

      Oh Brianna, that is so scary! A similar thing happened to my cousin's baby years ago and since then I've always taken the stickers off products as soon as I get them (but you're so right….you wouldn't even think it would be an issue). Che stopped gagging at about 10 months…it's not a terribly bad thing, just them developing the skills to eat, so don't fret about it too much. x

  • Anna of The Analog House

    I love your quote and am so inspired by your blog, that I started my own, in an attempt to live simply. Now, I am obsesses with ridding my home of clutter. It feels so good to only have the necessities.

    XX Analog House

  • Daisy

    It always fascinates me how different babies are. Even at the age of just a few weeks, they already have specific character and taste. I experienced this with my two kids. Whereas my first baby was extremely calm, very good-tempered and always hungry, my second baby appeared to be very hard to please. He refused to be breastfed at first but patience proved to be crucial. The same thing happened when I recently introduced solid foods to my second baby at the age of 7 months. He refused to eat any solid food I gave him. I tried bananas, apple puree, carrots, broccoli… He preferred breast milk. After reading a blog article on myorganicformula.com , I realized that it is normal for babies to refuse to try solid foods at first. So, having in mind how curious my second baby is, I figured I would give him finger food e.g. cucumber slices, which he can grip in his fist, explore and taste and it really worked. It got him curious what this new food is and soon after that he was happy to eat purees as well.

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