Starting solids with your baby is such an exciting time! It can also be one that for many new parents is fraught with uncertainty and worry. It doesn’t help that there is a vast array of advice out there on this topic and much of it is conflicting. Now let me just say that if there was one right way of doing things, everyone would be doing it! Don’t stress yourself out too much by thinking that if you don’t get this stage exactly “right” you are going to do some harm to your baby. After all, it’s just food, and babies all over the world have been starting their food journeys in different ways for generation after generation. Trust that as long as you use common sense by slowly offering your baby a variety of healthy foods starting near the 6 month mark, and consider safety as you are doing so, all will be well.
In my book, It All Begins with Food, I go into great detail about starting solids with your baby and give you all the information you could need, so if you’d like to learn more, I encourage you to pick up a copy. In the meantime, these are some of my best tips:
- Ensure your little one is well rested when beginning solids. Offering a new eater a meal when she is ready for a nap probably won’t work out as well as you’d hope!
- Make sure your baby is sitting supported and upright while eating to reduce the chance of choking, and supervise your baby at all times.
- If serving warm food always double check the temperature, being extra careful to feel for hot spots.
- Remember to introduce new foods one at a time, and watch for any reactions.
- If you are feeding your baby purees, and she’s distracted by the spoon, give her one of her own to hold and let her feed herself with it while you sneak in some bites with your spoon too. Yes, it will be messy, but that’s OK. Be patient and try not to lose your send of humour!
- If serving your baby finger food, don’t overwhelm her by giving too much at once. Just give a couple pieces at a time allowing her to finish what is on her tray before you offer more. Be sure the pieces are soft and ideally cut into small bite-size pieces or sticks.
- If you’re using bowls and plates, invest in ones that stick to your baby’s tray. It will be so worth it when it comes to reducing waste and mess.
- Pull up your baby’s highchair right to the table so that she gets used to the social side of mealtime, and has regular opportunity to enjoy some baby-friendly foods that are being served at the family table.
- It is a myth that babies enjoy bland food. Don’t be afraid to feed them bold and interesting flavours. Just make sure the ingredients are as clean as possible. No processed food for babies is always the best plan.
- If you’re worried about mess on the floor, put a washable mat under your baby’s chair, that you can simply pick up after, brush off, and rinse.
- It’s ok to use store-bought baby food when you need to. Don’t feel guilty! Every parent needs some convenience so feel good about that organic pouch you threw in your diaper bag for that trip to the park. Just look for products with lots of nutrient-dense superfoods and no added preservatives like the ones made by Love Child Organics.
- When making homemade baby food, do so in good size batches, and freeze it in small containers or ice cube trays so that you always have a supply of food ready to go.
- The new recommendations suggest that babies should be exposed to peanuts and other nuts very early on in their eating journey. But, it can be tricky to find baby food recipes that include nuts, and there is no prepared baby food available on the market that contains them either. However, homemade purees containing nut butters and just a few other ingredients are simple to prepare and very tasty. Try blending up some smooth almond butter, roasted sweet potatoes and blueberries. Delish!