It’s that time, your baby is growing up!!! Either you are terrified of starting foods or super excited for the next stage to begin, there really is no in between. It can be a huge deal for a lot of mums and dads, and we find ourselves completely overwhelmed. With a lot of conflicting information out there, it is often hard to know where to start.
All mums are doing their best. I have never met a mum that says ah, stuff it I want my baby to eat shit! It’s all to do with education, cost and ability. Let it be known that you do not have to be the best cook in the kitchen, with fancy Insta snaps of immaculate food porn. You just have to WANT to do your best.
So let’s start with the basics…
How do you know when bub is ready to start food?
- There are no one size fits all approach and there is certainly no magic number. As a Nutritionist, I recommend around 5-6 months of age is best, as their digestion within a month can change so much. However, if you are concerned about weight gain or bub is showing all of the signs before 6 months then go for it, ask your health care specialist and dive in.
- Bub is watching you eat, basically a sign of jealousy I call it. When they’re watching you eat and you can see they’re interested they’re probably ready.
- Bub can hold their head up. This one is important – if they’re still a bit like a bobble head then they can choke.
- Bub seems hungry or even hangry! They might be waking in the night more frequently or sleeping less where before they were sleeping through.
- Won’t last as long between milk feeds as he or she was before, and becomes demanding or unsettled.
A word on ‘wholefoods’…
‘Wholefood’ has become a bit of a buzz word recently, but what it really means is eating food the way nature intended it – in its whole form, not processed in a factory and as fresh as possible. As simple as that; good fats, fruit, vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates, is all a baby needs when introducing solids, as they are already getting so much goodness from breastmilk or their formula.
Great first foods…
- Avocado: My number one favourite first food. It is so versatile, and contains so many essential nutrients. Avocado is so gentle on tummies and relatively neutral in taste but packs a nutritional punch. The creaminess of avocados is due to its high good fat content. This is one of those foods, that is not only incredibly filling but also great for little bubs as they are so used to a high-fat diet from breastmilk or formula. Avocado was the first food both of my kids had.
- Sweet Potato: is one of the most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It can helps regulate blood sugar, nutritious and filling and can help keep your little one fuelled for longer
- Banana: Bananas are a perfect convenience food for on-the-go, providing a high nutrient content. They are creamy, starchy, and sweet and often a favourite with little ones. They’re a favourite with us too because they’re really easy to take with you. Bananas can help to neutralize stomach acid, aid in bone health, vision and kidney health. Bananas are packed with electrolytes offering instant energy replenishment.
- Meats: As a nutritionist, I believe protein is one of the most important first food groups and macronutrients, but should be introduced around 6-9 months old. Beef is high in protein and iron and also contains calcium and folate. It is one of the most easily digested of the meats you will feed to your baby, it’s great to just cook up a piece of steak and cut it into finger like portions and let baby suck on it and gnaw. Keep a close eye on baby as this is a new skill, developing their fine motor skills.
- Chicken: Is high in protein and iron. It is one of the most easily digested of the meats you will feed to your baby. Chicken is most often recommended to be baby’s first meat. Turkey, like chicken, is high in protein and iron making it another great first meat for baby.
- Egg yolk: The egg yolk is a nutritious source of B Vitamins and choline and has high amounts of good fats making it a great first food and oh so nutritious for a developing babies brain. The yolk in particular doesn’t contain the allergic protein that the white does, and many paediatricians’ are recommending the yolk to be a great first food for babies.
- Bone broth: I’m just going to leave this one here. A fantastic and nutritious food to add to babies diet, that is so great for babies tummies and immune system. It contains an abundance of minerals and we call this bad boy a digestive elixir that really prepares bubs tummy and digestive system for all the goodness to come. It is a staple in our household. If you want a great recipe for it, feel free to check my social media and website.
- Fruit and Veggie Purees: Simple, easy and effective. The options are endless and they are a easy way to make sure baby is getting a variety of vegetables from, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin, celery, asparagus, green beans and fruit like, papaya, apple, pear, blueberries, banana all make great mad mash ups.
Now again mums and dads, there are always going to be people with an opinion and always someone has something to say about starting solids. We have all heard people saying something like “Oh you aren’t doing Baby Led Weaning?” or “Oh no don’t give them apple, it is too constipating” and “Oh, we didn’t do fruit there is too much sugar”. There are SOOOOOO so many opinions and so many food shamers. Trust me, wherever you go and whatever age your kids are, there is always someone. My advice is, do some research, make sure it is credible and try not to listen to playground heroes. Just do your best, you know your baby and that’s what matters. If you are overwhelmed just give some pouches, baby will be fine, and in the meantime, gather your thoughts and try again next week.
Let’s face it, it’s hard being a parent and it is ok to be real! My kids sometimes have toast for dinner or jaffles because I am basically tired AF. Do the best you can with what you have. Try to eat fresh quality meals that cover the basics of protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates. That’s it. Stay away from the middle aisles in the shops, it is expensive empty calories and babies don’t need it.
If you are embarking on the journey of feeding your little baby I want, you to take one message home from me! Balance is key! If Bub has some pouches, that’s great, but home cooked meals too! They don’t have to be fancy. Starting solids should be fun, messy and a stress free experience for bub.
When introducing solids, breast milk or formula remains the main source of nutrition, with solids complimenting the breast milk or formula, not replacing it. This is an important time for the development of the fine motor skills required for eating, but as they say “Food before one is just for fun!”
This blog was written in collaboration with the amazing Shannon Stokes from Mums and Bubs Nutritionist