Adrienne from The Stylish Bump gives insight on her journey introducing solids to her baby.
For the first four to six months of life, your baby uses iron stored in their body from in the mother's womb. They also get iron from breastmilk and/or formula. After six months their natural iron stores start to reduce so they need to obtain iron and other nutrients from 'solid' food.
I've always cooked all my girl's meals from scratch. To me, the thought of feeding my precious baby girl canned food didn't sit well with me, so I started cooking baby purees, casseroles and sauces. Sure, it's time consuming and requires a bit of planning, but at least I know what she's getting (and hopefully, she loves it!)
After having three children close together and doing lots of reading about food and nutrition, I discovered that a combination of Low GI foods and foods high in protein keeps babies feeling fuller for longer (just like they do for us.) Babies do a massive amount of growing in their first year, tripling their birth weight by the time they reach their first birthday. They need lots of nutrients from food (as well as milk) to help them reach their full potential.
The fuller you feel, the less likely you are to wake from hunger, therefore it’s important babies and toddlers have a complete diet of healthy, nutritious and full fat foods to give them energy to grow and keep them satisfied. One week after starting pureed casseroles with my middle daughter Sasha at 7 months old, she started sleeping through and continued to!
Most of the time I adapted the family meals we ate for my baby to save on the grocery bill and save myself from too much work in the kitchen. I referred to Annabel Karmel range of recipe books, Foods Babies Love by Weanmeister and Tizzie Hall's Feeding Book for lots recipe ideas, advice and tips. In fact, I still use all of those books for recipe and snack ideas.
When referring to ‘solids’ it isn’t really solid food when you start weaning until they get a bit older. All babies are different; some can ‘gum’ food really early and can manage food that is only cut up, where as other babies (like my first daughter) will like food pureed or really mashed up until they’re one or older. When starting solids, it's best to start with very runny food that's cooked and pureed. Almost like yoghurt.
The best foods to start with are naturally sweet, soft textured fruit and vegies that babies will (usually) love and are easy to puree - like carrot, pear, pumpkin and apple. I always liked to mix a bit of fruit or vegetable puree with breast milk at first, so it's very runny in texture, and a familiar and sweet taste. I find it has made the transition to the new experience of tasting ‘food’ and eating from a spoon a lot easier.
Starting solids needn’t be a daunting experience. Preparation is key, and getting the right menu and the right kitchen tools will help make it easier.
The NUK Freezer Trays are versatile and easy to use. A tray of nine compartments that are completely silicone and BPA free, they hold about 30ml of liquid or pureed food each and are really easy to use and wash. The silicone is so flexible you just push out a single portion of food without disturbing the remaining portions. If you think of it in terms of baby meals, each compartment holds about a whole meal for a baby starting out on solids.
The freezer trays come with a lid, and can be used for freezing a variety of baby food as well as ice cubes, lemon juice, soup, stock and lots of other liquids.
These are some of the foods I've had the most success with in the early weeks and months:
Peeled, cooked then pureed:
- Carrot (cook really well, then puree with a stick blender or masher)
Pear (be careful not to overcook, it steams quickly)
Potato (pretty bland so mix with breastmilk or formula)
Apple, especially Pink Lady or Royal Gala as they are the sweetest
Pumpkin (cook well then puree with a stick blender or masher)
Sweet Potato (really great because it’s Low GI)
Parsnip (cook really well, then puree with a stick blender or masher)
Raw and well mashed:
Avocado (I’ve never had or met a baby who doesn’t like it, and packed with Vitamin C it’s SO good for them!)
Using the NUK Masher and Bowl means you don’t have to buy or get out the electric blender, just put the cooked or raw food in the dish and mash it, then chuck it in the dishwasher.
As your baby and toddler gets used to lots of flavours and textures you can combine them into little meals. My little one loves pureed pear mashed up with avocado, easy to prepare and really very healthy and filling. I read that the more flavours a baby has at an early age, the less fussy they will become. And it’s true, believe me!
NUK also have a great range of bowls and containers like the Active Snacker and Stackable Pots with lids that are ideal when you’re starting solids, and have toddlers that snack a lot. It’s handy to have food in these little containers ready to go for when you’re out and about. Sultanas or other dried fruit, cut up vegetables, crackers and biscuits can easily be stored and used when you need them.
The fill and freeze pops by NUK are also great for freezing food such as juice, pureed fruit, yoghurt or breastmilk. Great for when they’re a bit bigger and just the right size for little hands eager to hold an icy pole, it’s a fun and easy way to get healthy snacks into them (and good for soothing sore teething gums too).
It's important to remember when starting out with food to be patient with your baby, take your time and try to make it a happy and fun experience for you and your baby. Babies, like children, will pick up anxiety and stress from us really easily, so if you're happy and excited about this new stage of their life they will hopefully be happy and excited about it too!
Also give baby small sips of cooled, boiled water from the kettle to help them digest the food. As they've only been fed breastmilk or formula milk it's important to give them a bit of liquid with meals to help them digest.
Please note: I am not a nutritionist, but have done quite a bit of research on nutrition and food for babies and children after my eldest 'fussy' eater turned out to be gluten intolerant and suffered from gastric reflux as an infant. If your baby or child has a special dietary requirement like reflux, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, fructose intolerance and so on, you should consult a pediatrician, dietitian or nutritionist.