When should I introduce food to my baby?
Author: Brea Walker Date Posted:10 July 2017
When should I introduce food to my baby
This topic can be as controversial as circumcisions and other parenting debates. In the end there is only one correct time to introduce food to your baby. That is when you and bub are ready. I am not a medical expert on this topic. I am purely a mum who has been in similar shoes. You probably already know the answer that suits your needs prior to reading this blog. If you are still however undecided, I recommend that you speak with your GP, Child health nurse or paediatrician.
What is the Australian Recommendation for introducing solids
6 months of age is the new recommendation. In fact, most large health organisations (worldwide) recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding followed by the introduction of solids with the continuation of breastfeeding.
Starting earlier than the Recommendation
I am not going to lie. The twins were around 4 months when they first tried solids. I had done plenty of research before they were even born. I planned to breastfeed for the first year and solids from around 6-8 months.
What changed was mummy indecision. I saw that other babies the same age were starting to try solids. I know, I shouldn’t compare one child to another. But, I let this get the better of me and took my little Luca’s increasing interest in watching us eat as a sign of an interest in food.
I decided to go the traditional route of pureed foods. The choice was mainly because I was so scared of them gagging or chocking on food. I spent days cooking, pureeing and freezing fruit and vegetable for the twins to try. I was so excited to start the next milestone with the boys.
Reality sunk in fast. The twins refused puree after puree after puree. All my hard work had been wasted because they were not really ready. I took this as a sign that I was rushing the process and we took a little break from food.
There are some instances where it is recommended to start solids early and this is usually under the care of a specialist. I personally in the future would not start solids until my bubs were able to sit unassisted with full control of their neck and head.
Traditional puree versus baby led weaning
I was a little worried about gagging on food but at around 7 months old I spoke with my child health nurse about starting the food process again. She recommended partly blanched then roasted vegetable sticks as their first foods. The insides are soft and mushy but the outside is a little crunchy which is perfect for a teething bub. The boys loved roasted vegetable sticks and these became a regular in my household for over 6 months.
I didn’t find that the twins ate a lot of the vegetable sticks so I wanted to make sure they were getting enough solids and started making homemade purees again. We continued with purees until the boys were old enough to take lumpy foods and they transitioned to the meals that we ate for dinner. This led to a lot of mess – I swear I spent more time cleaning up after their meals then actually preparing the food.
With Xavier, I did things a little differently. Xavier is a free spirited child – a child that has been here many times before. He choose when he would start eating food when he grabbed the food out of my hand and started devouring it like there was no tomorrow. From that moment onwards Xavier has been eating wholefoods (not a single puree in sight).
This was a perfect situation for me because lets face it with a business and 4 children to care for, I didn’t have the time to spend preparing purees. Xavier is a great eater. He has never really had a gag reflex moment with food and at 19 months of age there is only one food that he has refused – raw tomatoes.
As a comparison to Xavier, at around 18 months of age the twins refused vegetables and it has been a long enduring process that we have only just started to break through at 4 years of age. I wonder whether this refusal would have happened if they were left to follow the baby led weaning process.
No matter which weaning pathway you choose, expect mess as it is inevitable. It doesn’t matter which path you take as both have their benefits or maybe you might choose a combination of both. In the end all that matters is that you and your bub/s are comfortable with the pathway you have chosen. Remember the ruling – food before One is just for Fun and enjoy this milestone for what it is. Don’t be scared to let you bubs be messy - this is how they learn and explore new things.