5 top tips for starting your baby on solids

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Babies grow and change so quickly and at around six months old your baby will start wanting to change their diet from just milk, to mostly milk and a little bit of solid food.

There is a huge amount of information available on how best to introduce your baby to solids and it can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming so we have broken it down in to the top 5 things you need to keep in mind.

1. It’s all in the timing

The best time to start your baby on solids depends very much on your baby. If you start too soon they will not be interested (or able) and if you start too late you run the risk of your baby’s iron stores running low. However the good news is at around 6 months your baby will be giving you some pretty clear hints that they are ready to go:

  • they watch you as you eat and even mimic you biting and chewing. They also start reaching for food that is nearby
  • your baby can hold their head up well – they likely won’t be sitting independently but they will have a lovely strong upper back and neck
  • their tongue thrust reflex has gone. When they are born, babies have a reflex that means they push their tongue forward and out when something it put in their mouth. This is perfect for breast feeding but not useful for eating solids
  • they open their mouth when something touches their lips or you offer food
  • they seem hungry after a milk feed or are asking for more milk feeds

2. Start slowly and repeat

When you first start offering solids make it relaxed and fun. Pick a moment when you are not pushed for time and your baby is happy and relaxed. Get them secure in a slightly reclined position such as on your lap, in a bouncer or a highchair with an adjustable back. Pop a tiny amount on their tongue – the first few solid feeds will literally be not much more than a teaspoon full in total!

If your baby is not interested, stop and try again in another few days.

Start by offering one smooth solid meal a day and slowly increase the frequency and texture so that when they are around nine months they are eating three solid meals a day in addition to their milk.

3. Rejection isn’t final

Up until now your baby has had a diet of just milk so the introduction of new flavours to their taste buds can be a journey. Offer the same food for 3 days or so and then introduce another one. If the new one is rejected, wait a few days and try again with a tiny amount. You may need to offer a new food more than ten times before they gobble it up.

4. Planning ahead

Once your baby is established on solids you need you need to ensure you have plenty on hand. Their first foods need to be smooth, runny and easy for them to swallow. You can then slowly introduce more texture and variety.

Ideal first foods include cooked and pureed meat, vegetables including kumara, pumpkin, carrots, and taro, and fruit. Ensure skin, pips and seeds are removed from the fruit before your puree them. Don’t feel the need to follow adult meal preferences – if you baby wakes up happy but ravenous don’t hesitate to give them a meal that includes meat and veges for breakfast.

Life with a baby is very busy, especially during the morning rush, so having a nutritious, delicious go-to for those moments when time is short is useful.

Countdown has launched the perfect solution – Smiling Tums. Available in Australia’s Woolworths supermarkets since 2018, the Smiling Tums range of baby food has developed a loyal following of parents and babies. Developed in conjunction with nutritionists, the Smiling Tums range is the ideal solution when you don’t have time for meal preparation or for convenience when you’re out and about.

Smiling Tums’ nine different products have no added sugar – they are naturally sweetened with fruit and vegetables! The range includes fruit, vegetables, proteins and cereal, so there’s an option for every meal and snack.

Conveniently packaged in a BPA-free resealable pouch, Smiling Tums are the perfect size to throw in your bag as you head out the door. You can be confident you are offering your baby nutritious meals, even though you’re on the go. Smiling Tums is exclusively available at Countdown and will bring a smile not only to your baby’s tum, but also their face, and yours too!

5. Solids and sleep

If your baby is waking a lot in the night it is tempting to try them on solids early to see if they will sleep longer, especially if you have a baby who is awake regularly during the night however a number of studies conducted over the years have failed to conclusively point to the introduction of solids being a magic sleep inducer. It is important to realise that a small amount of solids will not give your baby as much energy, fat and protein as milk does.
Furthermore, if you try to introduce solids too early your baby may not be physically ready to swallow or digest them and it can quickly become an exercise in unset and frustration for all involved.

It is best to look at the timely introduction of solids as a part of their overall development and not just how it might improve their sleep. If you are really struggling with sleep, seek advice from your Plunket Nurse or other medical advisor.

What signs is your baby showing that they are ready for solids?

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author robynWritten by Robyn

Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.

10 Comments

  1. MuddledUpMolly 01/12/2019 at 11:12 pm

    Our baby really loves her food and we started her just before six months of age. We weren’t in any particular rush but it’s made mealtimes a lot more enjoyable as we now eat together as a family.

  2. Alezandra 30/11/2019 at 11:57 pm

    Oh this is a new brand of baby food in the market. It wasn’t around back then and had limited options. Also, it seems like there’s really no age determination to allow solid foods. I was told that it was supposed to be at a minimum at 6 months of age. But reading this, it’s never about the age but the signs.

  3. Loucyd3 29/11/2019 at 10:49 pm

    My 3 were exclusively breast feed upto 7months,we were not in a rush to start them on solids as they showed no signs of being hungry and they were all very well settled and slept their nights through. We started introducing solids at 7months+ , their meals were always homemade and frozen in ice cubes as one cube was just the perfect amount for introducing them to all the different flavors.

  4. dawnblyth 26/11/2019 at 3:38 pm

    My boys were both hungry boys and started solids a bit earlier than 6mths. They were watching with intent when we ate and didn’t turn anything away. We started just on the baby rice and milk then moved up slowly to the pureed fruits and veges. My boys, even now at 11 and almost 5, love fruit more than veges haha

  5. Micht 18/11/2019 at 3:26 pm

    We are past these stages in our home… we started both our girls at 4months on solids as they showed they were ready for it… i found countdowns range of baby food amazing and priced well… both girls lived on it.. one thing we did find was by introducing them to eggs, dairy ,nuts early on has found them being accepting of all foods with no allergies… mine are picky eaters but they loved their baby food…

  6. SarahBlair 12/11/2019 at 5:00 pm

    My kids never really took to eating puree, I tried but they always preferred to have things that they could feed themselves. I made them soft finger foods and they ate that really well.

  7. Mands1980 12/11/2019 at 12:23 pm

    Starting solids was different with all 3 of my children we started to around 6 months and made most at home to try them out. They either love it or hate it by spitting it back out. I just experimented and they slowly ate more and more solids.

  8. Jen_Wiig 12/11/2019 at 9:37 am

    Gosh it seems so long ago the journey to starting solids… And reading this just shows how much its progressed too. I remember when my eldest (now 13) started it was 4mths old and was to only be pureed apple, banana or pear… We of course went against the grain and introduced pureed veges and meat… Now its suggested as one of the first foods to start with 🤣
    Mr #3 who is now 5 was a mission to get to ha e ANYTHING besides boob right up until about 8 or so months old then he grabbed a biscuit out of older bros hand and started sucking away on that… His 2 fav foods now Milk and cookies hahaha.

  9. Shorrty4life1 11/11/2019 at 9:42 am

    I remember the fun of trying my children on solids they were the type of children where they absolutely loved it and if not they would spit it out lol which could be quite messy. I loved getting the kids watties and organics were always the best ones. But when I had Tyson I decided to make my own and freeze them into wee cubes of solids for him then take it out the morning before his meal at night’s. I found yoghurts great for lunchtime solids with fruit. And I also definitely found that the solids before bed would definitely help with their sleeping patterns at night time. Great read for new parents kidspot.

  10. Bevik1971 08/11/2019 at 2:22 pm

    I remember our journey with solids – I breastfed exclusively until 6 months, then introduced some solids then. I wasn’t in any rush for her to have solids, but she seemed hungry even after a breast feed etc so knew she was ready. I breastfed until she was 3 years old as well but she had a great appetite and ate home made solids at the start then we just starting giving her pretty much what we ate (to a point), and mainly organic food 🙂

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