The first step into the journey of food with your little bubba can be a little overwhelming at times, largely due to the lack of practical and supportive advice and information.
But armed with the right education this can be an extremely exciting time for you and your little one, from this point forward you can now access the healing ability of food to support your babes immunity and health.
Over a series of posts, I aim to clarify into simplicity a step by step guide to food introduction for Mumma’s and baby’s.
What AGE to start -
At some stage between 4 and 6 months your baby will begin solids. Unless there is a medical need to start within the 4th month, then it is best to wait between 5 and 6 months as this is when the baby’s digestive tract will cope with food better as it will be slightly more matured. Also pay attention to the signs your bubba is showing that they are ready for food; watching you while you eat while also opening and closing their mouth as you eat, or licking their lips and dribbling as they watch you eat, reaching for your food, and being able to sit up (supported in a seat is fine) and keep their head lifted.
What are the APPROPRIATE FOODS -
There is a lot of mixed information on the internet and in books, about which foods to introduce when. The underlying theme of everything I do is to support gut health, and hence I introduce foods in a way that suits the level of gut maturation at each age, meaning easier to digest foods are introduced first to avoid irritation and inflammation of the gut. And High allergen foods are also introduced before the age of 12 months, which is shown to lessen the likelihood of allergies.
Between the ages of 4-6 months the appropriate foods are:
How to PREPARE the food -
Banana and avocado can be consumed raw and at room temperature, while all other foods on the list need to be peeled and cooked, either via steaming or a gentle simmer, and served slightly warm. Always ensure fruits are adequately ripened, to avoid tummy troubles. The foods are then completely blitzed into a smooth and runny texture.
Meal TIMING -
You will begin with lunch being bubbas first meal, at around 11:30am, or before their lunchtime nap. Always begin with your usual breast/bottle feed after their morning nap first, and then about 45 minutes later you will feed them the lunch.
After 7 days you can bring in breakfast, around 7:45am or about 45 minutes after their first morning breast/bottle feed, and a further 7 days after that, you can bring dinner in at 5:30pm or around 1 hour before their bedtime routine and final breast/bottle feed.
Don’t stress too much if your babe hasn’t developed much of a “routine” yet, the key points are; in these early stages ensure breast/bottle feed has been offered roughly 45 minutes before the solids meal, and then allow bubba about 45 minutes to digest their food before putting them down for the next nap.
How MUCH to feed them -
Start small! These early stages are not about “filling them up”, they are still dependant on milk as their dominant nutrition source, for now it is about priming their gut for digestion, and teaching them to eat.
The first meal is as little as a teaspoon, building up from there at each meal and by the end of the week they will be eating 30mls / 2 tablespoons. Don’t worry if most of the food ends up on their face, all over the bench, or seemingly anywhere but their mouth! The art of eating is a brand new skill for your little one, so be patient and have fun.
Whats best - BABY LED WEANING OR PURÉE?
There is no right or wrong, and to be honest I utilise both methods through my journey with solids with my two boys. Between the ages of 4-6 months I do encourage purées whenever possible to help that gut a little more, but some baby’s prefer to be more of an independent feeder right from day one, and just love feeding themselves! Let baby guide you here, and if they won’t take to being spoon fed then either they are just not ready for solids yet, or they may prefer baby led weaning, if that’s the case their are an endless amount of resources and books available on this topic online.
What about WATER -
At the same time as introducing food, is also time to introduce small amounts of water into the diet. Extra water consumption (outside of breast/bottle feeds) helps aid digestion and prevents food introduction resulting in constipation. It is very small amounts at a time, and no more than 60mls over 24 hours is needed at this age. Offer small amounts around meal time, and occasionally through the day.
Find a vessel babe likes to drink from, some bubbas like to sip from a cup straight away, while others enjoy a sippy cup style. Bottles with straws are a bit too tricky to navigate at this age.
So that’s step one in a nutshell! Simple, practical and FUN! I hope you have found these steps easy to follow, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out.
STEP 2 COMING SOON - we will be discussing appropriate foods between 6-8 months old, change in food texture and introducing allergen foods.
By April Butt
April Butt is a passionate Health Practitioner and Nutritionist. Her approach to health, as well as food, is practical and sustainable. Within this blog she shares pearls of wisdom to make living a healthy lifestyle achievable for everyone.