So your tiny little button is growing up? He or she is nearing 4 months, or even 6 months, and is watching you avidly when you do that fascinating thing with your mouth. What's it called? Ah! Yes... Eating.
All those different colors and textures and shapes and sizes that mommy and daddy chow down multiple times a day. That looks pretty interesting to your baby and hey, if the center of their universe is doing it, shouldn't clever baby emulate them?
Experts agree that before 4 months your baby's diet should be exclusively breastmilk and or formula. But maybe you're starting to think about how to introduce solids?
Have a look at our starting your baby on solids chart for a helpful snapshot of good food for babies at different stages of growth.
And let's think about that first meal, those first weeks. Because boy are they fun! And messy. And hilarious.
Honestly, the first few weeks or feeding solids you have to look at like a different form of playtime. Your baby doesn't know how to chew and swallow yet. And what is this bizarre plastic thing they keep shoving in my mouth. A spoon? Can I grab that? It looks like a fun thing to smash on the table. What's this around my neck? Ohhhhh it's crinkly and plastic. Can I rip that off?
The whole eating experience is different and stimulating and exciting and babies will react to it differently.
So, how to introduce solid foods? Great foods to start with are porridges or cereals and grains. Babies can also get started on their solids adventure with banana, apples and mashed carrots, sweet potatoes and butter squash.
We personally recommend for that very first meal, go for cereal or banana. Something a little sweet and easy to swallow. Show us a baby that doesn't like banana! No doubt they exist but more often than not it's a favorite first baby food.
It's a great solid food for baby but make sure it's fresh, it's ripe, mash it up really well with a fork to get all the lumps out and give it a go! Pop baby in their high chair with their bib. Make sure you have a small serving, a small plastic bowl and a spoon. And get a loved one to video it. The facial expressions of shock, confusion, delight and curiosity are gorgeous.
What about quantities? Introducing baby foods how often? Well this depends on your baby. If they love it, why not give them 3 small meals a day. And by small we mean a taste. A few messy spoonful’s. Don't forget that digestion of solids is different to digestion of milk so their tummies have some work to adjust.
If they don't like it, try one meal a day. Try different tastes until you see what they like and try to stick to their favorites until they are used to the idea of eating. Then mix it up occasionally with new tastes.
Starting your baby on solid food is such a fun and fantastic experience. Annabel Karmel writes fantastic cookbooks with different recipes for different stages of babies growth. If you enjoy cooking we really recommend this. I used it frequently with my eldest child who is now 8 and the variety of foods that she eats now astounding. I didn't do it with my second child and got an eggs bacon and pasta girl. I can't guarantee it’s the book! But I sure wish I'd continued to make the effort with different tastes when she was younger.
Be prepared to clean, a lot! I know one mom who would line the floor with newspaper at feeding time as her son was so messy! But realize that all that slop and mess and the multiple changing of clothes is just another phase of learning. It will pass and you will miss it.
So enjoy the moment with your messy little food monster. It's a great adventure.
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If you are the parent of an infant, brainstorming activities to help entertain your baby is likely something you think about often. With so many gadgets and products out there marketed towards new parents, it is so easy to get caught up in buying a whole bunch of things, when in reality, it is the simple activities that will naturally capture your little one's attention and contribute to their development!