Starting solids is an exciting time for babies and parents alike, as it marks the beginning of the transition from a milk-based diet to a more varied diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solids around 6 months of age, however it is better to gauge your babies ability to sit independently and hold their head steady, as well as the ability to move food from the front of their mouth to the back for swallowing, as well as an interest and reaching for food. This commonly occurs somewhere between 4-6 months of age.
When introducing solids to babies, it’s recommended to start with simple, single-ingredient foods that are easy to digest and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Examples of these foods include:
- Pureed fruits and vegetables: Pureed fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, carrots and pumpkin are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They are easy to digest being simple carbohydrates.
- Avocado is a great first food and super convenient. It is a good source of healthy fats and can be mashed or pureed and mixed with other foods to make it easy to swallow.
- Meat and poultry: Meat and poultry are a good source of protein, iron, and zinc. They should be pureed or mashed to make them easy to digest. The other reason starting solids at 4-6 months is because the babies iron stores start to fall dramatically from then onwards when relying on a milk based diet.
Introducing solid food should not replace breastmilk or formula, but rather be complementary to it.
It’s also important to introduce new foods one at a time, and watch for any signs of a reaction, such as a rash or diarrhea. This will allow you to identify any food allergies or sensitivities early on.
Don’t be disheartened when you begin. Most food will be spat out or thrown on the ground. Solids is very much a sensory and motor development stage and not really about filling them up or getting them to sleep through the night.
An interesting note is that foods also need to be presented at least 20 times before you can actually say they do not like it.
Studies show that the best eaters have had repetitive exposure to a wide variety of small amounts as well as family eating times together with no screens. It is a social and learnt activity so as always parents it is a do as you do not as you say moment.
If your child is seemingly having trouble chewing, swallowing or excessively gags please feel free to book an initial appointment for a thorough history and examination to ascertain if there is a musculoskeletal element that needs addressing.