The look on a toddler’s face when everyone else is eating is usually priceless. It is as if they are wondering why they are not taking part in the family ritual of tapping the table and the mouth. Well as a mother you will have to wait for six months to introduce your baby to solid foods.
When to start introducing solid foods
Introducing your baby to solid foods – sometimes called weaning or complementary feeding – should start when your baby is around six months old.
It’s a really important step in their development, and it can be great fun to explore new flavours and textures together.
To begin with, how much your baby takes is less important than getting them used to the idea of eating. They will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or infant formula.
Weaning is a whole new experience for you and your baby and therefore you should take it a day at a time. Start with potatoes and fruits then as months go by you can make the foods thicker. Salt and sugar should not be added.
Once your baby is 6 months old, you can in theory give her most foods, and try new ones quite quickly. Here are some foods you may wish to begin with:
- purées of vegetables such as carrots (gajar), pumpkin (kaddu), potato (aloo), sweet potato (shakarkandi), sponge gourd (tori), ash gourd (petha kaddu)
- purées of fruits, such as ripe cooked apple (apple), pear (nashpati), or mashed banana (kela)
- gluten-free baby cereals, such as iron-fortified baby rice cereal mixed with baby’s usual milk.
The next stage
Purées may be easiest for your baby at first. However, babies can quickly learn to chew soft, lumpy food even if they have no teeth. Ensure the food is well mashed and gradually make the food a thicker consistency. Try to limit the number of sweet or cereal purées to one a day, and always include a vegetable purée.
Don’t add salt or sugar, honey or other sweeteners to your baby’s food.
Once your baby is happy eating with a spoon you can increase the range of foods you offer.
There are foods that you should not give your baby during weaning. Do not listen to what friends or family tell you. If it is to be avoided then do exactly that even if the bay is restless.
Foods to avoid:
- Nuts and seeds – whole or chopped
- Low-fat foods
- High-fibre foods, e.g. with added bran
- Raw or under-cooked eggs
- Honey – if your baby is under one year
- Avoidable sugar
- Fizzy drinks or squashes
- Tea, coffee or flavoured milks
- Adult foods like gravy or sauces – they may be high in salt and additives
- Liver – if your baby is taking supplements containing vitamin A