Congratulations you've survived the first few months of life with your baby. I'm sure you've been in a cycle of breastfeed/bottle feed, change, sleep and repeat. It almost feels like a dream, well one without the sleep part!. So now comes the next stage and the question when is the the best time to start introducing solids using seasonal NZ produce.
Why seasonal NZ produce you may ask? Well notwithstanding the carbon you will save by buying local produce and also supporting NZ farmers, eating seasonal produce is so much better for your baby. It's also cheaper to buy what is in season. Pumpkins, avocados, apples, broccoli all make the perfect first foods for babies.
Now it's time to start thinking about introducing solids. This normally happens between the ages of 4 and 6 months and totally depends on your baby. Some babies show interest in food a lot earlier than others, following your hand as you try and eat your own lunch for instance. You will also notice that milk alone is not satisfying your little one, especially during the day.
Babies should also have good head control and be able to sit up, either unaded or in a support seat. There is no need to rush into starting solids, the main source of a babies nutrition should come from breast or formula milk. If your baby isn't a great sleeper, starting solids will not be the miracle you are looking for.
Once you have checked with your healthcare provider and you and your baby are ready to start, you can introduce solids. Here's a quick guide to what to offer your baby.
Always offer breast or formula milk first.
Iron rich baby cereal is a good first food to start the day off with. Mix with cooled boiled water, breast milk or formula. Once your little one is over 6 months old you can add a bit of cows milk to the cereal. It's not recommended to give your baby cows milk as drink until over 12 months. Mix some mashed fruit such as mango for added flavour.
Try and make your own food, its super easy, cheaper and more nutritional than the store bought variety. The store bought food pouches should be for occasional busy days when you are out and about. They tend to be very fruit based and sweet which can make your baby favor sweet food.
Mashed banana is a great first food. Try a couple of spoonfuls but only give once or twice a week as it can cause constipation in babies.
Pureed pumpkin is always a winner and can become a base for their meals later on. Mixing it with other vegetables and eventually meat.
In the beginning of your baby's food journey they don't need to be having three meals a day, a couple of spoonfuls to start off with is fine. Remember their little tummies are still quite small.
Another great option is to use food/net pouches. These are great for introducing foods and flavours, your little one will love to suck and chew on them but there's no risk of choking. Mix a strawberry and a couple of peeled grapes. (When you introduce grapes later on always cut the grape into quarters as whole grapes can get caught in their windpipe and cause a choking hazard)
If your baby is liking most foods, there's no need to stick to one food at a time. Mix foods together and add some milk and cheese for extra flavour. For example: Pumpkin, pea, carrot and silverbeet with a dash of milk is delicious. Blend it up and freeze in batches.
Puree pumpkin, potatoes, broccoli, carrots and any other vegetables and put into containers that can be frozen. I find ice cube trays great in the early stages as you can just pop a couple out as needed.
Avocado is another versatile fruit that can be given by itself or mixed with banana.
Between 7 and 8 months you can introduce egg. Try the yolk first as it's the white of an egg that can cause allergies. Boil an egg and mash the yolk, add a little bit of milk or water to get the right consistency.
If you would like to try baby led weaning, simply cook some carrot sticks (making sure they are soft but still firm enough for your little one to hold on to. If you baby wants to grab the spoon, let them. It might be messy but it will encourage good eating habits later.
A good high chair is very important. You need one that has no crevices and a removable tray for easy cleaning. It gets very messy, especially later when they insist on feeding themselves. Your baby needs to be well supported and strapped in.
Something else to consider is will it grow with your child. Once they become older and want to sit at the dining table can the tray be removed and it becomes a seat. These high chairs do normally cost a bit more but in the long run its very cost effective. We love the NUNA Zaaz high chair.
Enjoy the food journey, if we get in early with kids they will grow up to love all kinds of food. Don't be scared to experiment with flavours. Most children take 3 or 4 attempts at certain foods before they like it.