Introducing solid foods to your baby is one of the most exciting and messy milestones in their first year. It is a very exciting time for parents as you get to watch your little one discovers the wonderful world of food and discover lots of new flavours. The first few months of weaning is all about your baby experiencing new flavours and textures from those juicy fruits to creamy vegetables, and that’s just the beginning! Your baby has their whole lives to discover different food varieties and flavours so remember parents, there is no need to rush them as they start their journey into solids. So, let’s start at the beginning with the question:
When is My Baby Ready for Solids?
Remember every baby is different! There is no exact timing when it comes to weaning. What you can do is start observing your baby. Until a baby is at least four months old (17 weeks to be exact as recommended by the HSE) they should only be offered milk. This is due to your baby’s digestive system not being mature enough to process anything else.
What Are the Signs to Look out for?
Around the age of six months, your baby may begin to show signs that they are ready to transition from liquids to solids. Waiting until your baby is six months old to start weaning, allows for their digestive and immune systems to develop.
Sitting Up With Minimal Support
Your baby should have the ability to hold a stable sitting position with minimal support.
Holding Up Their Own Head
A solids ready baby should have the ability to hold up their own head and neck without needing any assistance. This ensures your baby can swallow safely.
Has Some Hand-Eye Coordination
Maybe you’ve spotted your little one reaching or grabbing a toy or food. Having some form of hand-eye coordination will allow your baby the ability to pick up their food and get the food into their mouths. This will be a messy process at the beginning with more food going all over their face rather than in their mouths but that’s all part of your baby figuring things out!
(Make sure to have someone with a camera ready, as it’s a moment you won’t want to forget!)
Makes Chewing Motions
Your baby should have the ability to move food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
Tongue- thrusting typically disappears around the four to the six-month mark. A great way to find out if your baby is still tongue-thrusting is to place a very small amount of milk on a spoon or your clean finger. If the milk comes right back out along with their little tongue and continues after several tries, their thrust is still present, and your baby is not ready for weaning just yet.
Signs often mistaken for your baby is ready for solids often include:
- Chewing his or her fists
- Waking up in the middle of the night at times they previously would have slept through
- Wanting extra milk
These signs do not necessarily mean your baby is ready for solids as these are normal things growing babies do. When you see your baby is giving you several signs that they may be ready for solids, the HSE and WHO recommend waiting until your baby is six months old before you start them on their weaning journey.
What are the Different Types of Weaning?
Spoon-feeding is carried out exactly how it sounds. A very small amount of food from puree to chunks as they get older, are placed onto a spoon and offered to your little one. Sometimes they may grab the spoon off you, but that’s part of the fun!
Baby-led weaning gives your baby the chance to play and explore their food, normally with softly steamed veggie batons. For introducing this style of weaning to your baby, they need to be able to sit up, pick up, and hold foods and bring the food to their mouths. They may not eat very much at the beginning; however, they are exploring the look, feel, and smell of new foods and building up familiarity with their new food.
Generally, a mix of spoon feeding and baby led weaning is a great way to introduce exciting new flavours and textures into your little one’s diet!
What Foods Should I Introduce My Baby To First?
Smooth vegetable purees are the best choice for first tastes. Steam and blend carrots or parsnips and pop into individual portions. An ice cube tray is great here! Make sure to introduce one new flavour at a time, over several days. This helps to eliminate any potential allergic reactions and allows you to act fast!
Foods to Avoid!
Did you know there are food babies just can’t have? Foods like honey, raw or lightly cooked eggs are a no-no, along with salty foods such as stock cubes, bacon, sausages, crackers, nuts, crisps, etc. There are even certain types of cheeses that are they can’t eat like brie, goat’s milk cheeses and camembert. Your little one will just have to wait to discover these types of foods until they are a little older.