One of life’s greatest learning curves ever is raising children. You’ve got to be on the ball as a parent – ready to nurture, love, guide, chide, discipline and always willing to upskill. There can even be times when you will question if you’re doing the right thing, or if you really still want kids, especially after a particularly difficult tantrum or when they’re raising hell. But in the end, at the end of the day when they’re tucked into bed, you wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One thing that many parents struggle with is when and how to begin to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet. Read on as we take some of the mystery out of the process.
What Age is Best?
Before you head down to the baby shop to buy that first packet of solid food, you need to ensure that your kid is actually old enough to try solids. There used to be quite a bit of confusion around the correct age, but that was cleared up a few years ago. Ideally, your child needs to be around the six-month mark – or just a bit below. Four months is the youngest age to introduce solids into your child’s diet. If you really want to play it safe, wait until six months.
How to Introduce Solids
Ideally, you should introduce your child to your families eating routines. When you’re all sitting down for breakfast, lunch or dinner have your baby’s solid food ready for them to eat as well. This means they get used to a routine of eating at certain times and may mean they’re less fussy as they get older.
Remember that at six months of age your child may not yet have their first tooth. So starting with a steak is probably not the best idea. You want to serve your kid mash and pureed food.
Store Bought or Homemade?
The verdict is out on this one, and it’s entirely up to you. There are plenty of baby food products on the market, all subject to the same standards of testing and quality control that adult food is held up to. Your child will definitely get all the vitamins and nutrients they need from store bought baby food along with breast milk or formula. Plus, there’s lots of variety to choose from, so if they reject one brand or type, they may enjoy another. This can become expensive though, as little packets and pouches of baby food add up over time.
If you have a blender or food processor at home you can make your own purees. Some good foods to start with are potato, sweet potato, carrot and other easily mashed or blended vegetables. Stay away from seasoning for the time being though – your child’s gut is delicate and may not be able to handle added salt, spice or herbs.
For Fussy Eaters
Some babies will eat up everything that is served to them, while others will turn up their nose at heaps of different foods. The trick is to try lots of different foods and eventually (hopefully) your kid will pick something that they like. Yet be warned – once they turn two or three their preferences will vary yet again and what they once loved they will reject.
A Blended Ending
Make sure your child is between four to six months old before you introduce solid foods. Try to establish a mealtime routine, and begin with mashed, blended or pureed food. It’s up to you to choose between shop-bought or homemade food, although you can save money cooking it yourself. Finally, some kids are fussy and you may need to try different foods before you find one they enjoy. Bon appetit!