- While it may be tempting to start with a flourish, the best way to tackle solids is slowly and methodically. Introduce foods one at a time, and a couple of days apart.
- Make sure that everything is smooth and pureed.
- Start by offering a teaspoon of rice cereal-it's plain, iron rich and gluten free, so unlikely to illicit any adverse reactions.
- You can use breast milk or formula to thin the rice cereal-this will make it taste slightly familiar which may help your baby to accept it.
- Slowly increase the amount you offer by a teaspoon each day. Once she's eating two tablespoons of rice cereal at a sitting, you can begin to offer solids twice, and then three times, a day.
- Don't be discouraged if she seems to push as much out of her mouth as you put in – for some babies, co-ordinating the chewing and swallowing actions takes a bit of time to master.
Don't season your baby's food – she doesn't need it. And don't introduce all the sweet foods (apple, pear) first, as she may not want to give the savouries a try later.
Foods to introduce from 6-8 months:
- potato, pumpkin, carrot
- mashed banana, cooked and mashed apple or pear
Foods you can introduce after eight months:
At this stage, your baby should be able to cope with coarsely mashed foods. She'll also enjoy finger foods such as pieces of soft fruit, cooked vegetables and toast, all of which will encourage self-feeding. Try:
- ground up meats and chicken
- cereals such as whole rice, couscous and pasta – though delay these if you have a family history of wheat-based allergies
- a little cow's milk to add to cereal or food such as custard
Solids: 12 months and beyond
At 12 months, you can introduce cow's milk to your baby's diet. At this stage she'll be able to eat coarsely textured foods, including meat, and will be moving towards a family diet. She'll also be able to wield a spoon with varying degrees of success, though she may prefer the more 'hands-on' approach to eating.
- Commercial baby foods? There's no denying there's a convenience factor in using commercially made baby foods. And while they do contain similar nutrients to fresh food, they are expensive and most contain several foods mixed together. Also, weirdly, they can seem to all taste the same and have the same texture no matter what their ingredients are. With the exception of single food varieties, try to keep commercial baby foods as a back-up option rather than being the mainstay of your baby's diet.
- Sweet drinks? Fruit juice, cordial and soft-drink are not recommended for babies. Water is the preferred choice, and if you offer sweetened drinks you may find that your baby no longer is happy with good old unsweetened water.