7 Tips For Starting Solids by Skye Swaney of Shift Nutrition
Starting solids is an exciting time for new parents, but for most of us idea of teaching your baby to eat can also be a little daunting!
As a dietitian, I knew a lot of the theory about introducing solids but quickly found that it was a whole new ball game when it actually came to doing it. For the first two weeks my usually very happy baby did nothing but scream whenever I tried to get him to eat, not exactly the fun mealtime experience I’d been looking forward to! But through a lot of trial and error, and plenty of conversations with other mums, I’m pleased to report that things gradually improved and I now have a champion eater on my hands (at least for now anyway!). Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
- Think beyond puree
Puree is a great place to start, but babies also love the chance to play with food and to try feeding themselves, hence the reason they’ve been putting everything and anything in their mouths!). If your baby is six months or older and you feel comfortable with it, try giving your baby some finger foods such as steamed fingers of sweet potato, asparagus spears, bananas or whole Weetbix softened slightly with a little milk (while keeping a close eye on them). You might be surprised what they can do!
- Make big batches
Once you and your baby are into the swing of solids, you can feel like you’re constantly cooking (and cleaning up afterwards!). To save time, making big batches and freezing individual portions so that you’ve got plenty of meals ready to go and cooking for your family doesn’t become a full time job!
- Be prepared for mess!
Argh, the mess! It can be a little discouraging to see the majority of all your lovingly prepared food end up on the floor, but rest assured it’s all part of the process (and they’ll eventually grow out of it!). Instead of fighting it, just accept that it’s going to be messy and make the clean up as easy as possible for yourself. Get a good bib (a long sleeved one that covers everything might be the easiest way to go), and place a plastic sheet you can wash down or piece of material you can pop in the wash under their high chair.
- Keep some prunes handy
Many babies suffer from constipation when solids are first introduced. Certain foods such as bananas are thought to be particular culprits, and I certainly found this to be the case! Prunes are a great way to deal with the constipation naturally, try adding pureed prunes or prune juice to their pureed fruit, infant cereal, yoghurt or porridge (see recipe below). Pears and plums also work well.
- Include iron rich foods
The iron stores your baby built up before birth start to run low after around 6 months and they’ll need to be topped up via some iron-rich foods. Good sources of iron for babies include infant cereals, meat, chicken and fish, legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans, lentils and tofu.
- Try, try again
Babies (and children) often won’t like something the first time they try it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never like it. Just leave it for a few days and then offer it again, remembering that it can take up to 10 tries before a new food is accepted.
- Remember, there’s no rush
Some babies take quite a bit of time to come around to the idea or solids which can be frustrating and worrying for parents. But just keep gently offering different foods in a relaxed environment and they will eventually come around.
Finn’s favourite Pear Porridge
I make a batch of this each week and freeze it in individual portions for quick and easy breakfasts. I give Finn a few things to nibble on like some toast fingers, whole Weetbix softened slightly with a little milk or some fruit such a banana, mango strips or pineapple fingers while I heat it up.
Ingredients (makes 3 cups which is about 8 serves for Finn, but he’s a big eater!)
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups full cream milk
1 banana, roughly chopped
1 pear, peeled and roughly chopped
8 prunes, seeds removed
- Place all the ingredients in a large, microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 7 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- Puree in a food processor.
Skye Swaney is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist with over 10 years experience in the field. During her career she has worked in a variety of areas of nutrition, including the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Corporate Nutrition at Sodexo UK & Ireland, Senior Dietitian at the Healthy Kids Association and private practice. She now consults to the food industry, the corporate sector, sporting teams, hospitals and schools and, as a keen health and nutrition writer, regularly contributes to publications such as The Huffington Post . Skye is also a mum to a gorgeous little boy called Finn.
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