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Dr Kyla’s Top Tips for Starting Solids

14 Mar, 2024

So your baby is showing all the signs of readiness and you’ve got your highchair and feeding equipment ready to go. You might be feeling excited, or possibly a little overwhelmed! You’ve read the basics, like no honey before 12 months, and being mindful of added sugar and salt, but it still feels big doesn’t it?! Here are my top tips for starting solids:

Only your baby knows how much they need
My philosophy for feeding children is that you provide and they decide. This means you’re in charge of the food and the big picture stuff, but your baby is in charge of their body. They decide if they will eat (when you offer) and if they do, how much. As a result there’s no amount your baby ‘should’ eat when it comes time to offer your baby solids. There’s no perfect portion. This means you never need to trick, distract or force your baby to eat. Solids is about learning and experience, not about getting a certain amount of volume in. Some babies will eat lots at their first meals and some babies won’t swallow a thing. Both of these are normal!

Eat together when you can
When your baby first starts eating solids, it can be hard to imagine a time where you're ever organised enough to have a meal on the table for yourself too. Moving towards eating as a family is one of our goals, because it has huge benefits for everyone involved. But it doesn't have to be every meal, and the good news is that a family meal counts if at least one adult is sitting and eating with the baby. As your baby gets older and their skills develop it becomes easier to adapt elements of a family meal to suit their biting and chewing skills (just watch the added salt!).

Use a mixed feeding approach
This means you can combine traditional spoon feeding and baby-led weaning to get the best of both worlds! Offering purees to your baby can often make it easier to offer high iron foods that can be blended to an easy, smooth texture (e.g. tinned beans, baby rice cereal, soft-cooked meats), while baby-led weaning supports your baby to be in charge of self-feeding. Both have benefits, so why not try a combo?

Embrace the mess
Mess can be uncomfortable for lots of parents, but allowing your baby to get messy can help them explore the feel, look, smell and maybe even the taste of food. Lots of babies find getting messy helps build their confidence to actually eat, so it might take several mealtimes of learning about the food with their other senses before they feel safe to put it in their mouth. Even if you’re not a fan of mess, try your best to hold off wiping your baby until the end of the meal. You may want to invest in some feeding smocks and a stack of washcloths or flannels.

Offer a variety of flavours
Gone are the days of offering the same food for 3 days before you can introduce something new. With that old approach it could take weeks to even try half a dozen different foods! I recommend offering a variety of flavours from the start. You can start with individual foods and flavours, and then start to make up your own combinations. One of my favourite Baby Mealtimes recipes is a pork and strawberry puree, because why not? There really are no rules!

Starting solids can be an exciting time, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to even begin, I’d love to invite you to join the Baby Mealtimes membership so my team and I can support you.

Baby Mealtimes will be at PBC BABY Expo in Perth, 2024.

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