Our gorgeous wee baby girl is now 9 months. Crazy how quickly this has come around, it feels like everything goes much faster the second time round. She is now crawling at high speed, furniture cruising and delighting us all with her infectious giggle and by blowing kisses, waving and clapping. I’d forgotten how enchanting this stage is! She also LOVES her food.
Like her brother Lottie is much more keen on finger food than being spoon fed but I can still spoon feed her when I need to get a meal into her quickly, we’re out and about or if she is really hungry. I have definitely done things differently and I think Lottie is a ‘better’ eater as a result. Having said that different baby so could just be her personality and appetite!
So here are my top tips to help you get started with solids and enjoy this exciting milestone in your baby’s life.
Don’t rush into weaning
The current advice is to wean between 5 and 6 months. Research suggests that babies weaned around this age will be less likely to suffer from allergies. I’m sure that making sure your baby is really ready for solids is crucial as to how successful and stress free the whole process will be. I rushed to give Freddie solids, as with all new milestones it was so exciting! With Lottie I held off until she was really asking for solids and hungry for them and so far I have found feeding her a stress-free experience. Key signs that your baby is ready for solids are:
- Holding their head up well.
- Seem hungry soon after a milk feed.
- Open their mouth when offered a spoon.
- Watch you eat and may open their mouth as you are eating.
- Push food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
- Make chewing movements.
The Weaning Kit
To make life simple I would recommend having a heap of cheap bibs (ether popper or velcro fixings as tying strings is a real faff). I have a soaking bowl in my utility room ready to go and chuck the bibs straight in after every meal to get the stains out – banana is the worst I’ve found! Once your little one is feeding themselves I switch to flexible bibs you can wash in the dishwasher.
I found some great spoons made by munchkin which I love as they have soft tips and really long handles so you can reach the bottom of the jar without getting baby food all over your hands.
To drink from a soft spout beaker with valve taken out works well to get your baby used to drinking water. Lottie is now using beakers with straws in which are great as they don’t require lifting or tilting to drink from. I’ve found lots of the beakers on the market can be really heavy for a little baby.
A weaning bag is a great way to let your baby feed themselves. I used a Nuby Nibbler and filled it with soft foods for Lottie to suck and chew on. They are tricky to clean so I recommend moving onto finger foods once you feel confident your baby is ready. It’s worth noting that Nuby do however sell replacement bags for their nibbler!
How much food to offer?
Be led by your baby but also remember they have small tummies and if you over feed them you are likely to see the solids again! YUCK! I made this mistake with Freddie. As a guide just offer 1 to 2 teaspoons initially and then gradually increase the amount over the next few days. Once your baby is eating around 3 tablespoons introduce another meal until your baby is eating 3 meals a day. You’ll know when they have had enough as they will turn their head away.
What should the texture be like?
During the first couple of weeks the purees should be a watery texture similar to PVA glue. As your baby becomes more used to solids start to thicken the puree up. Once they show signs of chewing gradually introduce soft lumps. Both Lottie and Freddie were eating finger foods from around 7 months and coping with soft lumps.
Baby rice or Veggies?
I steered clear of baby rice this time around when I started Lottie on solids. I decided that I wanted a gentler approach to weaning this time around with less chance of bunging her up, so introduced root vegetables, carrots and butternut squash as her first few tastes. They are all naturally sweet in taste and easy to puree into a smooth consistency at home. I’ll be giving you so great simple purees in my next post so watch this space…
I did use baby cereal after a few weeks to thinken up fruit purees at breakfast time and then switched to weetbix once Lottie was old enough. For those of you living in the UK there are some great baby cereals available that are not just rice based.
Apple and Pear
Hold off on the fruit! Babies have a natural affinity for sweet tasting things. With Freddie I gave him apple and pear as his first tastes after baby rice and he had a marked preference towards them often only eating very small amounts of anything savory.
When to introduce meat?
Meat can be introduced as early as 6 months. This time around I introduce meat after two weeks of weaning once Lottie had tasted enough vegetables to create some tasty mixed purees for her. With Freddie I held off until around 7 months as recommended by some experts and as a result he wasn’t all that keen on the metallic taste and grainier consistency. If your baby does reject meat you could try using bought baby food containing meat as they are able to get a much smoother consistency than you can at home. Another trick is to include apple or pear in the puree to sweeten it.
It’s going to be messy!
Your baby is going to want to explore their food with their hands. This is how they learn and it only gets worse as they get older and feed themselves and enjoy dropping food off the side of their highchair!
Don’t feel disappointed if your baby isn’t all that keen
Some babies love solids straight away and some take a while to get used to it. Don’t be disappointed. It can take many, many tastes of a new food for your baby to like it.
How quickly should you introduce new foods
Guidelines are that you should introduce a new food every two to four days. If you are feeding your baby using jars you will find this hard as most jars contain more than just one food. To begin with with both Freddie and Lottie I kept to the two day guidelines but as their diet became for varied I didn’t worry about it as much, except with foods I was concerned might cause an allergic reaction.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you have don’t forget to vote for me in the 2013 Munch Awards. Voting closes on 29 October 2013.