Just as you’ve finally conquered your baby’s milk schedule, you realise it’s soon time to introduce solids, otherwise known as weaning. Solids are not a replacement for breast milk or formula, which is meant to be their primary food source until 10 - 12-months-old. Paediatricians typically advise beginning at 6-months-old, when babies can swallow and show signs of readiness. Feeding your 6-month-old may seem daunting, but fret not as this quick guide runs through the basics.
How to introduce solids
Traditionally, purees were recommended as the safest first solids as they are soft and easily swallowed. Recently, however, baby-led weaning (BLW) has been gaining popularity. While relatively new with less proven studies, BLW is thought to raise adventurous eaters by starting them off exploring different textures and tastes. Both methods have their advantages, so do seek your paediatrician’s advice.
While some parents strictly follow either method, many others have taken to combining them to let their babies enjoy the best of both worlds! Whichever you choose, constant supervision is key, as eating is a completely new experience for them. While gagging is normal, it is helpful to take an infant CPR course to differentiate it from choking, which requires your immediate assistance.
What foods to feed
Examples of great first foods include baby cereals, porridge, veggies or fruits. Start off with single foods, like plain porridge or a banana piece, and introduce new foods from different food groups every 3-4 days. This helps you identify disliked foods and potential allergens.
When to feed solids
By now, your baby drinks at specific times of the day. Some parents choose to feed solids just before or after milk is fed, or in between feeds with water. Experiment to figure out when is best for you and baby.
Dislikes & Allergies
Babies never seem to follow our best laid-out plans, so don’t worry if your baby refuses your painstakingly prepared food. Just like adults, they have individual preferences and may not like something on the first try. Try again in the next few days or weeks; young ones are notorious for their ever-changing palates.
Introducing common food allergens, such as peanuts and eggs, need not be worrisome. If you suspect any allergies based on family history, talk to your paediatrician about allergy testing before starting. Otherwise, spacing out introductions, and close monitoring of allergic reactions is essential in diagnosing and managing allergies.
Before you begin weaning, remember to get the all-clear from your paediatrician, and to subsequently bring up problems such as vomiting, choking or constipation. Every baby is different, so be patient and don’t force-feed them. Most importantly, enjoy watching your baby experiment with new tastes; think of weaning as a fun introduction to the exciting world of food!