I was so looking forward to starting Jamie on solids! Food has always been a very important part of my life (see my food blog here) and I was terribly excited to introduce my little boy to the wonderful world of flavours and tastes.
Weaning advice states that your baby is ready if (1) if he can hold his head and can sit upright almost unaided, (2) shows interest in mummy’s food (3) puts things into his mouth and exhibits chewing motions and (4) has lost the extension reflex to push everything out of his mouth.
I thought weaning Jamie at 4 months and 2 weeks would be a failure (read more about why I decided to wean before 6 months) – he didn’t show any visible interest in what I was eating, or if he did, he kept it hidden very well. He was just about able to hold his head but sitting? No way! The only thing that he did was to put everything into his mouth and chewing vigorously (but then again this could be teething, right?), leaving pools of saliva everywhere. I thought I’d give solids a shot anyway.
Jamie’s first experience of spoon-feeding was with a small portion of baby rice mixed with breast milk. It went swimmingly (please not that below video documenting the seminal moment of Jamie’s first spoon of solid food is probably only interesting to Jamie’s grandmothers) and I haven’t looked back since.
Now, at 5 months 1 week, I feed Jamie twice a day. There are periods when Jamie eats quite a bit (I’d say the equivalent of about 7 tablespoons), and days when he just grazes, pulls funny faces, spits food everywhere and falls asleep while eating.
It doesn’t matter how much baby eats at this early stage as all essential nutrients are still coming from breast milk or formula. Solids complement rather than substitute milk feeds. Knowing this, takes a lot of stress away from introducing solids as you can be sure that even if baby has a few days when he refuses your beautifully cooked carrot mash, it really doesn’t matter.
Feeding Jamie is my favourite part of the day (which admittedly is a little bit sad…) and I love introducing a new fruit or vegetable each day. His grimaces and look of disgust and desperation with every first spoon (regardless of whether he likes it or not) are absolutely hilarious and so is his impatience when the spoons don’t keep coming at the same pace as milk flows. Jamie loves carrots and parsnips and is really unsure about zucchini (well I can’t blame him!). His favourite is banana, god he loves banana!
(here another of these videos with probably limited interest to the broad public, but can I just say that my son is totally cute. I am of course not biased at all!)
What You Need for Baby’s First Meals
1. A few bibs – I preferred the ones that can be wiped in the beginning but will now move on to softer cloth ones.
3. A food freezer tray or ice-cube tray – ideal to freeze small portions of your freshly prepared puree. I think that’s the most important piece of equipment as it saves you from cooking up baby food from scratch twice a day.
5. A steamer or steaming insert
6. A seat where baby can sit upright – 4-6 months old babies, unless they are very advanced, won’t be able to sit in a high chair just yet. Better than buying extra equipment for your high chair to accommodate smaller babies, use a maxi cosi or bouncy seat for these early feeds.
The First Few Feeds:
1. Expose to tastes a couple of weeks before you start weaning
I got the tip to start putting tiny pieces of food (e.g. banana or papaya, a piece of bread) into Jamie’s mouth to get him used to tastes different from breast milk. I did this from about 15 or 16 weeks on and this may have helped to make the transition from exclusively breastfeeding to solids so smooth.
2. Baby Rice – an ideal first food
Baby rice is a good starter food. It is bland and, mixed with breast milk and formula, will taste very familiar to baby who will initially just have to get used to a new texture and eating from a spoon. I don’t think baby rice is particularly healthy or helps to expose baby to the wealth of tastes and flavours out there, so I stopped giving baby rice as soon as Jamie accepted fruit and vegetable purees, basically after a couple of days.
Here a very interesting article which supports my views on why not to use baby rice long-term.
3. Mix in breast milk or formula to make purees taste more familiar.
5. Time and patience is the key and be prepared for a lot of mess.
New Tastes and Textures
1. The When and How Often – As Jamie seemed so excited about eating, I have given him 2 portions of solids a day from the beginning – one between 8-10 in the morning and one between 5-6 pm, just before his bed time routine. It’s easiest if baby is hungry but not starving, so for example give one breast, give puree and then feed the other breast.
2. Best first foods: Whether you start with fruits or vegetables, baby is used to the sweet taste of milk and will therefore prefer sweet flavours to, e.g. broccoli or cauliflower.
Good first fruits are cooked apples or pears, or raw and mashed bananas or papaya.
Good first vegetables are sweet root vegetables such as parsnip, carrot or sweet potato.
3. Mild constipation is a common problem when switching to solid food. Banana, baby rice and cooked carrots are the culprits and cooked apples, pears or apricots may relief mild constipation.
4. There are advantages of introducing as many flavours as possible at this early age, before little one gets fussy. You may want to introduce a new fruit or vegetable every day. Start with root vegetables and then move to easy digestible foods like cooked apple and cooked pear.
At around 6 months we will move on to the second stage of weaning, which means introducing more lumpy textures and expanding the repertoire to grains and cereal, fish, chicken and dairy. This is gonna be fun!
Annabel Karmel – Weaning: A concise and informative little companion with some useful (and a lot of redundant) information. I particularly love the recipe for making raw banana puree…