The process of introducing your baby to solids is called weaning. This is when you slowly reduce breastfeeding or bottle feeding and start to introduce solid foods. The recommended age to start weaning is when your baby is around 6 months old. This is because at around this age the breast milk or formula you are feeding them does not contain all the nutrition they need for healthy growth.
Why Wean at 6 Months?
When your baby is around 6 months old they will stop feeling satisfied with just a breast milk feed or a baby formula feed. At this age their hunger takes a leap and they want and need more. At this time they also start running low on iron and zinc which are important minerals that can be absorbed from solid food. At around 6 months of age your baby’s tummy will have developed enough to cope with solid food too. Plus they will be physically ready for the process of taking in solids and chewing them and swallowing them.
How Do I Know It’s Time to Wean?
While there is a recommended age to start weaning your baby on to solids, there are also some tell tale signs that indicate bub is ready to start on solid foods.
- able to sit up unassisted
- holding their head steady
- able to look at the food in front of them and have the hand eye co-ordination to pick it up and put it in their mouth without help
- they can bite & swallow
- they have increased appetite and show the signs of being hungrier sooner between milk feeds. Signs such as their hungry cry, munching on their hands and toys more than normal and showing a lot of interest in your food.
Bear in mind that some children, like my first born will be take to solids easily and happily at the 6 month mark. Others, like my second born will show all the signs of being ready but will simply not want to start on solids at that time. They will tell you they are not ready to start solids by pushing the food out of their mouth and if that is the case then give baby weaning a rest for bit and try again a little later.
Learning To Eat Solid Foods
Teaching your baby to chew and swallow food can be quite challenging. As adults it is not something we even need to think about. But for a little human who is trying something thicker than milk it can be quite a complicated task. They have to teach their tongue where to go to keep the food in their mouth. At the same time they have to chew their food mainly with their gums and just one or two teeth and then successfully swallow it down. All without gagging or choking. So be prepared for some false starts and a little bit of trial and error before they get the hang of it.
Baby Food Textures
There is no set order for introducing which food at which time. As long as you are including food that is rich in iron like meat, fish, chicken and/or tofu. Some parents like to feed their bubs iron-fortified rice cereal but take it from someone who has had a try of this stuff – it is very bland and unpleasant to eat so don’t stress if bub won’t take to it.
It is important to ensure the texture is right for their stage of solid food eating. It is best to start with smooth purees that are easy to digest so they can work on getting the basics of eating before you move them onto thicker and chunkier foods.
Foods that are great to puree and easy for bub to digest include:
- Vegetables such as pumpkin, potato and sweet potato
- Fruits such as pear, apple and ripe banana
- well-cooked rice
- well-cooked meat: minced, stewed or grated (cook, freeze then grate)
- fresh or tinned fish with the bones removed
- legumes such as lentil
- cooked pasta and bread
When pureeing cooked fruits and veggies you can add a little of the leftover cooking water. Adding some breast milk or baby formula to purees is also a way to add some extra smoothness, yumminess and nutrition to your baby’s first foods.
Dairy products including full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard may be given, but not cow’s milk as a main drink before 12 months.
As your baby gets used to eating purees you can start to make them more and more lumpy and chunky so they can start to learn to chew before they swallow. From about 8 months you may want to start introducing finger foods such as
- pieces of soft raw fruit such as banana, avocado or tomato slices
- small pieces of boiled or steamed vegetables such as a broccoli floret or carrot stick
- cut up pieces of toast or rusks
- cooked strips of meat
Once your baby reaches 12 months old they can be eating what the rest of the family eats along with some breast or cow milk. They can snack on pieces of fruit and rice cakes.
Making Your Own Baby Food
There are so many convenience foods out there that baby will love. From purees to cereals and much more. But be wary of added sugars, salt and preservatives in store bought pre-prepared foods.
Making your own baby food from fresh fruits, vegetables and sources of proteins is not only the healthiest way to feed your baby, but it can be fun too as you experiment with different foods, flavours and techniques.
It’s a good idea to make a batch of food and freeze it into portions so you can just defrost one portion at a time.
For some a saucepan and a stick blender is all you need to make baby food. But if you want to up your baby food making game there are some awesome baby food makers out there on the market.
Beaba make some super cool ones.
The Beaba Babycook steam cooks your baby’s meals, purees, soups and a whole lot more in just 15 minutes. It guarantees healthy and nutritious meals by preserving the vitamins to give baby the very best when moving to solids. The Babycook saves the vitamin rich cooking water to suit your baby’s taste and texture preference.
Then there is the amazing Beaba Babycook Neo which is just like the standard Babycook but it has a glass bowl and a stainless steel steam basket so baby’s food is cooked in a plastic free environment.
You can even get yourself a rice & pasta attachment for your Babycook so you can not only make a delicious sauce but the pasta or rice to go with it!
Best Recipes for Baby Food
The task of making your own baby food can be an overwhelming one. What foods at what age? How to prepare baby food? What baby food recipes are the best nutritionally? What meals are the yummiest for your baby? There is so much to consider that it is no wonder parents choose the easy route of feeding their babies store bought food.
The team at Beaba have consulted professional chefs to create a cookbook for baby’s first foods which will help making your own baby’s food fun and simple. The Beaba Babycook Cookbook features 80 recipes for your baby and toddler. Each recipe is classified by season and age with colourful illustrations of each dish.
It also contains a super helpful Foods Chart that gives suggested times to introduce new foods to baby. To help you with what to feed your baby it provides nutritional advice and chef’s tips so you can learn as you cook. From simply one ingredient first meals to foods for fussy toddlers this cookbook has you covered when it comes to baby’s first foods.
When it comes to tableware there are so many different options out there it can be mind boggling. From silicone, to harder plastics, to natural materials such as bamboo or even wheat. Then there is the style of baby & toddler tableware to consider. Do you want to feed your baby from bowl or a plate. Will your toddler be less fussy and enjoy meal time more with a divided plate?
A popular choice for eco conscious parents is the bamboo tableware from Eco Rascals. The great thing about bamboo is that it is organic, recyclable, biodegradable, grown and harvested without the use of pesticides. Each plate has a silicon suction base so your little one can’t play upsies downsies with it. You can choose from a variety of shapes including the ladybug, elephant and car. Each one is divided so you can divide their meal into food groups or colours or textures to make meal time fun and interesting for your baby or toddler.
If you prefer silicone tableware for your little one then you can’t go past the range from EZPZ. These are all in one plate & placemats or bowl & placemats which suction to any smooth surface which stops any tipping. The plates are divided into happy faces which helps put your solid food eater into a good mood to eat. These cool plates are stackable making them easy to take to the table as well as storing them. Plus they can be washed in the dishwasher. We love a time saver for new parents!