Starting solids is one of the biggest and most exciting milestones your little one will go through. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for this new journey…
There’s nothing quite as thrilling as when your little one is ready to start solids. On the one hand, you can’t wait to introduce your baby to different types of foods. On the other, you’re a little nervous about weaning because this is the start of something totally new for you and baby. Not sure how to start your baby’s weaning journey? We’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks, as well as what to expect.
1. Recognise the signs
UNICEF recommends parents start introducing solid foods to a baby when they hit six months old. However, some developmental signs may indicate your baby is ready to start before that. Some of the signs listed on HealthHub include the ability to sit upright, eyeing the food you’re eating, and opening their mouths when food is offered. You may want to consult your paediatrician if you’re unsure about when your child can start eating solid food, or if you intend to start earlier.
2. There’s no ‘best’ way to introduce solid food
Whether you’re leaning towards the traditional spoon-fed method or you’re keen to try out baby-led weaning – both methods are fine! As long as you’re feeding your baby healthy and nutritious food, there’s really no ‘wrong’ way to introduce them to solids. In fact, you can even mix both methods so your little one can explore a variety of food textures.
3. Start simple and small
It’s a good idea to start with small amounts of solid food since this is the first time they’re tasting something new. You may want to keep it simple as well, nothing too complicated (the berries mix smoothie can wait!). HealthHub recommends parents start with iron-fortified rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula milk for their first few solid meals. This is because your child’s iron reserves – an important mineral that helps with making haemoglobin and overall development – start to deplete when they’re six months old. Gerber has organic rice and oatmeal cereals that are iron-fortified, which you can introduce to your little one. It also has a range of delicious naturally-flavoured cereals for baby to try too when they’re ready to explore more flavours!
4. Be prepared for rejection…
Your baby’s solid food journey is one that has ups and downs. There are days when your mini-me happily finishes their meal; there are also days when they just don’t like what’s on their plate. Occasional food rejection is perfectly normal, so don’t feel discouraged! This usually happens with new food, as babies sometimes get comfort from eating familiar food. When this happens, it’s important not to force your child to eat. You may offer them something they’re familiar with and try introducing new food to them during the next meal.
5. … and the mess
All babies are messy eaters – and that’s a good thing! It may seem like a headache to see food smeared all over the highchair and floor, but trust us when we say that the pros outweigh the cons on this. Your little one is engaging in sensory play as they feel the textures of different food. They’re also actually developing their motor skills as they learn how to handle different textures, making this a precursor to self-feeding (every parent’s dream!). Having said this, there are definitely ways to make cleaning up easier:
- Get a splat mat to be placed under the highchair;
- If you’re doing baby-led weaning, you can try cutting or shaping food into fist-sized portions;
- Invest in large bibs that cover your baby from head to toe and the highchair too!
6. Expect changes in baby’s poop
Now that your baby is no longer on a milk-only diet, you should be noticing some changes in their poop schedule and appearances. In general, introducing solid food to babies will result in firmer, more frequent, and stronger-smelling poop. On top of that, whatever you feed your little one will be reflected in their poop: carrots may result in orange poop, and corn may just appear undigested in your baby’s poop! You should continue to monitor their poop as it’s a good way to know whether your baby is healthy and well.
7. One allergen at a time
When it comes to introducing common food allergens like eggs, peanuts, and shellfish, it’s wise to do it one at a time. This is so that you can easily rule out the root cause should your baby develop an allergic reaction. Introducing food allergens in small amounts first also helps build your child’s tolerance towards it. Dr. Elizabeth Tham, the Head and Consultant of National University Hospital’s Division of Paediatric Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology, advises parents to start introducing allergenic foods to babies when they’re between four to six months old.
8. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Once you’ve introduced a variety of different food types to your baby, you can start to introduce them to food combinations and snacks like puffs, muffins, and biscuits. Just make sure that the food texture and sizes are age-appropriate: food should be soft enough for you to smash with your fingers or are able to melt in your baby’s mouth; and nothing too small, round or slippery to avoid choking. We like how Gerber has a variety of snacks for young kids of different age groups. There are easily-dissolved teething crackers and puffs that come in different flavours; tasty yogurt melts that are made from real yoghurt and fruits; arrowroot biscuits that are easy to chew; and healthy baked navy bean snacks that are just the right size for your toddler’s hands to hold. The best part? They’re free of preservatives as well as artificial flavouring and sweeteners!
9. Take note of the big food no-nos
We understand that you can’t wait to introduce your little one to some of your favourite foods, but do note that there are some foods that you should avoid feeding them. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t feed your baby anything that is high in sodium and sugar before they turn two. This includes canned and preserved food, as well as snacks with added and artificial sweeteners. Sashimi and unpasteurised cheeses can wait till they’re older too. The Health Promotion Board has a useful guide on baby and toddler food that you can refer to.
Starting solids is the beginning of a wonderful journey for you and your baby
Introducing solid foods to your baby is a phase that you’ll only go through once. Not only is there the fun part of watching their reaction toward new food, but seeing your baby enjoy and grow from eating the food you’ve prepared for them is a super satisfying experience. So you can afford to be creative with the food you serve and thoroughly enjoy this exciting journey. You can check out Gerber’s range of baby food and snacks that are made from high-quality and premium ingredients, all of which are really yummy and kid-approved!
This post is in partnership with Gerber.