Feeding your baby solids for the first time can be quite daunting. I know this was true for me with my first child. There were feelings of uncertainty. Am I preparing something healthy and nutritious? Will my baby like the food? How do I know if my baby is getting the right amount of food?
This post is bought to you by Heinz. All opinions and experiences shared are 100% mine.
It was also a big adjustment. I was used to the routine of breastfeeding or preparing formula. Introducing solids meant I had to prepare the baby’s food, get the timing right, allocate a big chunk of time to feeding and cleaning up the mess afterwards. Getting out of the house became even more cumbersome. It felt like I had to pack a truckload of things – baby food, bowls, spoons, bibs, extra wipes and an insulated bag with ice packs for baby food made from scratch.
And as daunting as this was with my first child, I found that it became less daunting with my succeeding kids. But with more children to care for, the time and effort required to prepare and feed solids became more difficult to manage.
So here are some tips that I’d like to share for feeding your baby solids for the first time. Some of these tips come from the books and websites I read when my kids were babies. And I’ve also included my own personal experiences. Hopefully, by sharing these tips, I can help to make the transition of feeding your baby solids easier.
Tips on Feeding Your Baby Solids for the First Time
Is Your Baby Ready?
Before feeding your baby solids, first find out if your baby is ready. Most books and websites will say that feeding your baby solids is best done around 6 months, but not before 4 months. Physical attributes to look out for:
- Your baby should have good head and neck control
- Your baby should be able to sit up independently with support
- Your baby’s hunger is no longer satisfied with milk alone
All 3 of my kids started eating solids at around 5 months old. At this stage, they cried for a feed more often. They started waking up for a feed at night, after being able to sleep for 5-6 hours straight. I felt they were no longer satisfied with milk alone, so I started introducing solids.
Time It Right
You know that your baby is ready for solids. But you also have to get the timing right, especially for the first time. Here are tips to make that first time as stress free as possible:
- Pick a time when both you and your baby are most likely to be relaxed and not under any time constraints.
The first time your baby feeds should be a happy experience for both of you. Schedule it at a time when you know you will be at home. I found it much easier to schedule feeds with my first child. But with my third child, I had to find time to feed her in between school runs, errands and my second child’s morning activities.
- Start by feeding your baby solids after a milk feed.
The very first time I introduced solids, feeding after a milk feed worked best. This ensured that my baby was in a good mood, instead of screaming for milk. They don’t actually consume a lot of food the first time they eat solids. So for me, keeping the baby happy and relaxed through this new experience was the priority.
- Start with feeding your baby solids once a day.
As your baby gets used to eating solids, you can gradually increase it to 2, and then 3 times a day.
Know What to Expect
Knowing what to expect will help you cope with the mess and difficulty that can be associated with feeding your baby solids for the first time. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Expect the Mess.
Your baby still needs to learn the skill of eating. Chewing, gumming and swallowing solid food will be new to her. So for the very first time she eats solids, she will eat very little. This means that lots of food will come out of her mouth, end up all over her body, on the high chair and on the floor.
To cope with the mess, here’s what I did with my babies on the first week they started solids: Two of my babies hit the 5-month mark during summer. So I fed them with only nappies on. This enabled me to take them from the high chair to a bath right after a meal. I also put a disposable mat on the floor to catch spills. You can also use newspapers.
- Your baby will want to touch, squish, pound, suck and spill the food.
Let your baby to explore the food. I know what you’re thinking: MESS! Most definitely. My 3 kids did some or all of the following on our first few attempts at feeding: Dipped an entire hand in the food, sucked on her fist full of food, tipped the bowl of food over, spread the food all over the table, gummed the bowl, dropped the food on the floor and watched it go. So, I’ll tell you now: That’s all fine. Understand that it’s your baby’s first time to experience these new flavours and textures. Let your baby touch, explore and manipulate the food. This, after all, is an excellent sensory activity that allows your baby to explore with all 5 senses and build on other areas of development.
- Every meal will be different.
There will be meals when your baby will devour everything quickly. And there will be meals that may feel like forever. Every meal will be different. Just be patient. Respect your baby’s pace. And keep meal times enjoyable.
- Your baby will not eat much in the first few times of eating solids.
Remember that these first few times of feeding your baby solids are about introducing new food flavours and textures. So don’t be focused on getting food down.
- Your disposition matters.
To make it a happy experience for your baby, you also need to be calm, collected and relaxed. Try not to let the mess get to you. Talk to your baby. Encourage your baby to take on the food, maybe by touching the food (with clean hands of course) and offering some food with your finger.
Don’t feel overwhelmed. These tips on knowing what to expect is for feeding your baby solids for the first time. As your baby learns to take on more solids, they will be able to take in a bigger quantity of food and at a faster pace. At this time, it will be a good idea to start using baby spoons, which will make meal times a lot less messy.
Tips on Baby Food
You know your baby is ready to take solids. You’ve scheduled the time of day. And you’ve prepared yourself mentally and emotionally for what to expect. Now let’s talk about the baby food.
Baby’s First Food
It is recommended that baby’s first foods include iron rich foods, such as iron fortified rice cereal, pureed meat, chicken fish and legumes. Other examples of first foods are pureed fruits and vegetables.
Here’s what I did: I opted to give rice cereal mixed with breast milk (or formula milk) as my babies’ first food. I decided to do this so that their first taste of solids would have that familiar taste of milk. I then moved on to pureed vegetables before offering pureed fruit. I did this because I wanted to get them accustomed to the taste of vegetables, which are less sweet than fruit.
And remember, don’t put sugar or salt in your baby’s food. You’d want them to get used to blander tastes. This way, their taste buds are trained to eat healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables, even when they are older.
First Food Texture
For the first time, offer food that is pureed or smooth. As your baby takes on more solids, you can gradually make it a mashed thicker texture and then with small soft lumps.
Baby Food Quantity
Your baby will probably consume only 1-2 teaspoons worth of food on her first few times of having solids. This will gradually increase as they get used to the new flavours and textures.
Baby Food Preparation
I cared about what my babies ate. I wanted to know exactly what was in it. I wanted to make sure that I offered the healthiest and most nutritious food I could give them. And I also feared that baby food from the store contained other unknowns.
So in big quantities, I would steam their food – broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, apples, pears, you name it. I steamed rather than boiled, because I read that steaming retains more nutrients, while boiling may release some of the nutrients into the water. Then I would puree these steamed fruits and vegetables, put them in ice cube trays and freeze them.
Ok, so I mostly did this with my first child. It became tougher to do this with my succeeding children. And here’s why:
- It was time consuming.
- My baby’s food lacked variety. I prepared their food in big batches. The downside of that was I rarely had the time to make, let’s say, 3 big batches of apples, carrots and broccoli. So if I made a big batch of broccoli, my baby had broccoli the entire week.
- It was difficult to transport for the days we went out. I used to bring the baby food in a well-sealed container, which was then placed in an insulated bag with an ice pack. This meant having tons of things to bring. I was also conscious about the food going off, so the baby consumed the food soon after leaving the house, leaving nothing else for the rest of the day.
But thank goodness there is now an easier solution to feeding your baby: Heinz Infant ‘The Good Stuff,’ which is filled with exactly that – ‘just the good stuff.’ Here’s what I like about Heinz Infant food:
- Heinz carefully selects quality nutritious ingredients, many of which are from right here in Australia, such as apples, pears and peaches from Golburn Valley.
- Heinz baby food is lovingly made in a specialist baby food facility in country Victoria where they are steam cooked.
- The nutritionists who approve the recipes are also mums. They strive to make meals yummy, because they know how important it is to form healthy eating habits very early in life.
- You can offer your baby a variety of different types of nutritious food. You won’t have to give pureed broccoli for an entire week, like I did.
- You never have to worry about the texture. Heinz Infant food covers different age stages of your baby. You’ll find smooth purees in jars and pouches from 4 months. And you’ll find lumpier, thicker food in bigger jars or pouches for older babies.
- All Heinz Infant jars, cans and pouches are sealed and steam cooked. This locks in the delicious flavours and prevents the need for preservatives.
- It is easy to transport. You can grab a jar or pouch, then go. Stash them in your baby bag and open it as needed. No more ice packs, insulated bags, bowls and all that.
With Heinz Infant food, mums get peace of mind that they are offering nutritious food to their babies. But best of all, they have taken food preparation out of mums’ hands. So mums can now spend precious bonding time enjoying their baby, instead of spending hours in the kitchen.
In sharing these tips and personal experiences, I hope I’ve helped make starting solids less daunting. Just always remember to cherish these many ‘firsts’ with your baby. Have fun. Don’t stress. And enjoy the journey. I wish you all the best in feeding your baby solids for the first time.
If you’d like more tips on feeding your baby for the first time, baby food recipes and ideas, or if you just want to join a community of young mums, Like the Heinz for Baby Australia Facebook page.