When I started my baby on solids, it was hard to decide what to feed her. Like all mums, I wanted to make sure I was giving her the best possible food while at the same time trying to offer her a wide variety of them. When my baby was still around 4 months old, I bought a few books and read through, as I wanted to start on the ‘right foot’.
The book that I’ve been recommending and which I still use till now, with my 2 year old, is Food Babies Love by Emily Dupuche. It’s a real treasure and I must say it really helped me with my baby.
I’ve had many mums telling me about problems they have faced when feeding their babies like:
- salt needs to be added for baby to eat
- baby is a very fussy eater
- baby doesn’t eat veggies
- baby doesn’t self-feed
- baby only wants to drink milk
- baby is eating pureed food even after 1 year old and is still drinking milk from a bottle.
I must admit I have been very lucky for not having had to deal with the above listed issues. And till now, my little girl is a happy eater and will eat her fruits, veggies, meat, pulses, leafy greens, all dairy and everything really. Well, I don’t offer her chocolate, fruit juice, lollies, sweets. Im sure she’d be more than happy to eat those too.
How do you know your baby is ready for solids?
It is now advised to give baby solids when he around 6 months old; ‘around’ is important as some babies are ready a little before that time and some babies a little after (This booklet from Department of Health WA website is quite handy). Too early (before 4 months) is a problem as your baby’s digestive system is not ready yet and too late (after 6 months) might make it harder for baby to accept new tastes and textures.
You will know baby is ready when he starts to be interested in what you are eating and when he starts to follow your spoon to your mouth! Baby must be able to hold his head steady and should not push the food out when you offer it to him. If he does, it doesn’t matter, try again after a few days or in a week.
Why is it important to make sure baby is eating the correct texture according to his age?
Offering solids at around 6 months of age is very important for three main reasons:
- After 6 months baby’s iron store starts to decrease and the iron in breast milk and formula is not sufficient to keep the store to the required normal level.
- The muscles used for chewing are the muscles used for speech development. So developing those muscles is important. (You can read more about it here)
- It is also important for baby to taste a variety of food so that he does not become a fussy eater.
Many mums say things like ‘my husband doesn’t like cabbage that’s why my little one is refusing to eat it’ or ‘I’m allergic to egg, so I cannot give it to my baby as he/she may be allergic too’. This is simply not true. You will know if baby doesn’t like a specific food if you have given it to him more than 10 times and he has refused it. If baby refuses to eat something once, you have to try again another time, maybe another week and then you will be surprised to see that baby might eat it. They are now discovering tastes and do not know what they like or don’t like.
Concerning allergies: it has been found that giving some foods late to babies can increase the risk of food allergies. If you are introducing a new food, it is always best to introduce it during the day, and to then monitor baby closely to see if there is any allergic reaction. When introducing new foods, also make sure you introduce one at a time; in case of an allergic reaction you will know exactly what your baby has eaten.
A note on Food Babies Love by Emily Dupuche
Food Babies Love is full of yummy recipes for when babies first start solids to when they can self-feed; I tasted all the food that I cooked from the book and also at times finished them off for my baby. I started my baby with some pumpkin puree and then followed the book’s advice to when to move to different kinds of foods; since then it has been a great journey.
In her 184 pages of inspiring recipes, Emily has put together some delicious recipes, which can also be adapted for toddlers. The ingredients are easily available or can be substituted by usual pantry staples. Some of the recipes can even be used for the whole family or when you are having friends over for tea (like the zucchini slice, the savoury muffins or the sweet ones).
A Few Recipes For When You Start (from Food Babies Love)
Pumpkin Puree (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)
- 200 grms Butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, and roughly chopped (Any type of pumpkin can also be used)
- Water for cooking
Place pumpkin in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid and barely cover with water. Cover and cook over low heat for 8 – 10 mins or until pumpkin is soft. Strain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.
Use a stick blender to puree, adding a little cooking water to help thin down the puree and make it smooth.
Set aside 2 tsp of pureed pumpkin and freeze the remaining puree in an ice cube tray.
Sweet Potato Puree (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)
- 250 grms sweet potato, peeled and diced into rough 1cm pieces (about ½ a medium sweet potato or 1 cup chopped)
- Water for cooking
Place sweet potato in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid and barely cover with water. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 mins or until soft. Strain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.
Alternatively, place sweet potato in the top of a double steamer and steam for 15 – 20 mins or until tender.
Use a stick blender to puree, adding a little of the cooking water to help thin down the puree and make it smooth.
Set aside 2 tsp of pureed sweet potato for baby’s meal and freeze the remaining puree in an ice cube tray.
Banana (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)
- ½ ripe banana that’s not too ripe and certainly not under-ripe and chalky
Mashed banana is a great first food for baby but can cause constipation so keep an eye on the nappy and cut down if required.
Peel banana and mash with a fork. Offer to baby mixed with a little of their regular milk and a teaspoon of rice cereal.
Stone Fruits (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)
- 4 – 6 fresh stone fruits, peeled and stones removed (try apricots, peaches, nectarines but choose one variety at a time)
These are great as purees added to meat dishes, as flavour additives to natural yoghurts or simply peeled as a terrific finger food for babies to suck on – sweet and sticky! Just make sure the fruit is ripe as you don’t want any sourness to turn your baby off.
If using fresh fruit, simply puree with stick blender.
For a cooked version, place the fruit in a small saucepan with a sprinkling of water and cook with a lid on over low heat for 10 mins or until soft.
Puree cooked fruit using a stick blender.
Set aside a few teaspoons for your baby’s meal and freeze remaining puree in an ice cube tray.
Other foods you can puree and give baby are: carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, turnip, peas, potato, pear, apple, avocado (just mashed) and many more. If you are using corn, make sure you remove all the husks (by passing it through a fine sieve) before giving it to baby.
Freezing Baby food
- Freeze food straightaway as soon as it is cool.
- Throw away leftovers; don’t refreeze it. Bacteria and contamination are your worse enemies.
- After thawing, make sure your food is heated thoroughly and then allow it to cool down before offering to baby. Mix it well and make sure it is at the right temperature.
Wish all mums good luck on this food journey which is going to be a melting pot of emotions for both baby and themselves!
Have you tried other recipes when introducing solids to your baby? Want to share?