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Baby with apple

Food suggestions for bubs – When Should Babies Start on Solids?

Sneakys

Food suggestions for bubs starting out

Given the amount that is likely to go in and stay in, baby’s first foods will not provide significant nutrients. The point of introducing solids around this time is to prepare baby for new tastes, textures and modes of feeding.

  • Start with an iron-enriched infant cereal. While many of these are high glycaemic foods, infants who are just starting out find them easy to digest and swallow. Use breast milk or formula to mix into a smooth paste.
  • Cooked and pureed vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, choko, parsnip, broccoli, peas, potato, zucchini, cauliflower.
  • Once you have introduced a few vegetables you can start to mix them and create interesting combinations.
  • Mashed/cooked/pureed fruits such as avocado, apple, banana, pear, choko, strawberry etc. can also be introduced, although fruit is often best left till after a wide array of vegetables have been introduced to avoid an over fondness for sweet tastes.
  • If a fruit or vegetable is too runny, use baby’s rice cereal as a thickener.
  • By six months, baby should be consuming iron-fortified baby foods such as rice cereal (as per dietary guidelines for children).

The timing of food groups differs from one culture to the next and as yet there are no hard-and-fast rules. The following is a guide only.

What foods at what age?

According to the literature, there are no firm rules for introducing foods. The best we can do is be guided by our baby, and our knowledge of their physical development and digestive system.

  • We know that babies can digest some sugars but find starches more challenging until around 9-10 months.
  • Fat can also be difficult as their livers are still developing.
  • Protein in most cases is fine, although in some it can cause certain allergies, for example cow’s milk protein allergy.
  • Some babies may find foods rich in protein (such as meat) a little difficult to digest until 8-9 months.

The World Health Organisation defines four phases in the introduction of ‘complimentary foods’, determined by baby’s motor development:

  • Stage one is getting baby used to eating from a spoon, using pureed foods, once or twice a day.
  • Stage two is becoming accustomed to texture because of improved motor skills.
  • Stage three is the introduction of lumpy texture and thick consistencies, and again improved motor skills by allowing finger foods.
  • Stage four is self-feeding and nearing family meals.

Quick reference guide to introducing foods

Age Suitable foods Consistency Milk feeds
Around 6 months Note: Leaving sweeter foods such as fruit till after the introduction of vegetables can improve acceptance of foods that are not sweet
* Gluten free iron-fortified cereal i.e. rice
* Vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, avocado, choko, parsnip, broccoli, peas, potato, zucchini, cauliflower, beans.
* Avocado
* Cooked/mashed fruit such as apple, pear, banana, paw paw, rockmelon.
* Teething rusks
Pureed into a smooth paste with breastmilk or formula Still relies primarily on breastmilk or formula.
7-ish months Working up to 3 meals a day and adding of texture
* Iron-enriched rice cereal should be used by 6 months.
* Baby yoghurts or plain natural acidophilus yoghurts which are often more nutritious and have less additives
* Increasing variety of vegetables first, then fruit (not citrus fruits or tomato), corn, beetroot, peas, capsicum, turnip, parsnip
* Increasing variety of fruit – strawberries, mango, blueberries, watermelon, plum, star fruit and custard apples
* Brown and white rice cooked till soft
* Use of feeding cups over bottles
* Offer water regularly over the day
Mashed into a soft and lumpy consistency, similar to the texture of cottage cheese 3-4 milk feeds per day
8-ish months Babies develop a swallowing reflex for coarser foods.
* Fish
* A teaspoon of almond, linseed, sunflower or hazelnut meal (powder) added to mashed foods for protein and essential fats
* Thoroughly cooked brown and white rice
* Vegetarian proteins such as tofu and lentils
* Cheese (cheddar has low amount of lactose)
* White meat such as fine pieces of chicken or turkey
* Lumpy food
Introduce lumpy foods 3-4 milk feeds per day
Around 9 months Baby starts chewing and moving food around their mouth
* Start with gluten-free cereals such as corn, millet, rice, buckwheat, tapioca and quinoa – try buckwheat and rice noodles before pasta
* Nut spreads (caution with allergies)
* Expand on cheeses (cottage etc.)
* Red meat such as lamb mince
* Finger foods – grated cheese, vegetables fruit
* Vegetables, thin slices, grated
* Peeled and seeded fruit
* Beans
* Cereals, cous cous, semolina, tapioca, pasta, noodles etc.
Finger foods, grated cheese, finely chopped meat 3 milk feeds per day
10 months * Eggs (cooked egg yolk is easier to digest than egg white)
* Well-cooked red meats
* Small amounts of milk, soy milk, nut milk, oat milk
* Stews, rissoles, casseroles, sandwiches, etc
Scrambled egg yolk.Finely chopped or minced meat 3 milk feeds per day
11-12 months * Other legumes (kidney beans, butter beans, cooked legumes, soy beans, tofu)
* Pasteurised milk
Weaning from breast or bottle if wished at 12 months
12 months+ * Most foods the family eats Whole foods except nuts Water is best fluid

Fact Sheet by Leanne Cooper on behalf of www.organicbubs.com

This information has been provided by Leanne Cooper from Sneakys baby and child nutrition. Leanne is a qualified nutritionist and mother of two very active boys.