EAT => Feeding Solid Food => FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions & Related Information => Topic started by: *Natasha* on April 09, 2006, 01:03:04 am

Title: Solids for 6-12months very useful Information
Post by: *Natasha* on April 09, 2006, 01:03:04 am
I found this information and found it very informative and useful so i though i would share it with you all i think it can answer alot of questions people may have.

Starting solid foods is a big step for a baby and it often takes babies a while to get used to this new way of eating. If you watch for your baby to be ready and take it at the baby's pace your baby will probably soon enjoy trying new foods and tastes. 

When to start

Babies are ready to have solids (other foods) as well as milk some time around the middle of the first year. By this stage their digestive systems are able to cope with different foods and their sense of taste is becoming well developed.
Breast milk or formula provides all a baby needs for healthy growth and development for about 6 months and continues to provide most food needs for 12 months or so.
If you are breastfeeding, it is best for your baby to have only breastmilk for about the first six months, and then continue to have breastmilk as the main food with some solids (which are also called 'complementary foods'). 
Look for the following signs when deciding when to start:

Your baby is interested in things around her; she tries to get hold of things and put them in her mouth. She watches you eat and tries to grab the food.
She can hold her head steady and sit with some support.
She has lost her 'tongue-thrust' reflex which makes young babies push anything solid out of their mouths, so she is able to cope with spoon feeds. (Many babies push the food out for a little while until they get the idea of spoon feeding).
She may seem less satisfied with just milk feeds - she may stop gaining weight or start wanting a lot more feeds. However, it is normal for breastfed babies to gain more slowly between 3 and 6 months.
Wait until about 6 months?

Solids are not needed earlier so they only make unnecessary work for parents.
Starting solids does not usually help babies sleep at night.
There is more risk of allergy to some foods if they are started early.
Young babies are more likely to get infections - such as "tummy bugs" (gastro) than older children, so you need to take great care with preparing and storing food for them. There is less risk after 6 months.
A young baby may become constipated on solid foods.
Young babies may not be able to digest some foods well.
If the baby is eating other foods he may take less breast milk so the breasts will make less and he may not get as much milk as he needs for healthy growth.
It can be hard to get solid foods into a young baby because of his "tongue thrust reflex" which makes him push them straight out again.
Young babies are less able to tell you when they have had enough so they can be overfed.
Why start by about 6 or 7 months?
Breast milk or infant formula are still the most important foods, but they do not always have enough iron or energy (calories) for the second 6 months. Babies who are not given solids until much later may have health problems or not grow as well as they should.
Solids taste and feel different to milk, and babies may take a while to accept them.
Some babies who are not given solids before 7 or 8 months (when they are reaching out and wanting to try things) may not be so willing to try these new tastes and foods later on.

How to start
The best way to work out how and what foods to give is to follow your baby's development. We can think of the process in four stages.

Stage 1        First tastes - smooth foods,
                      around 6 months to about 7 months
Stage 2        Learning to chew - soft lumps,
                      around 7 months to 8-9 months
Stage 3        Self feeding - finger foods, firmer lumps,
                      8-9 months to 12 months
Stage 4        Family diet with some changes,
                      from 12 months on

Babies go through these stages at different rates so the ages given are just a guide. 

Stage 1 - first tastes
Smooth foods around 6 months to about 7 months.

When to give

Start once a day, at a suitable time for you. When this is taken well, try twice or perhaps 3 times a day by the end of this stage.
Always give solids after or between milk feeds, not before as yet. Your baby still needs to take plenty of milk.
Foods to give 

Baby rice cereal (this will have extra iron).
Rice cereal is a good first food because:
babies usually like it and can digest it easily
it is quick and easy to prepare
it can be made up thicker or thinner to suit your particular baby
it provides extra iron at the time babies are likely to run low on iron stores
it can be mixed with water, breast or formula milk, fruit or fruit juice or even pureed vegetables to give a variety of flavours.
Fruits - cooked, pureed apple or pear, ripe banana, avocado etc.
Vegetables - potato and pumpkin first, then carrot, peas, zucchini, broccoli, sweet potato etc, all well cooked and pureed.
Milk foods - custard without egg, yoghurt.  Do not use straight cow's milk in solids before 6 months, or even later if there are allergy concerns.
Smooth, pureed (use blender, food processor, mouli or sieve), semi liquid at first, then more paste-like.

How much
Start with 1 teaspoon and build up to 2 tablespoons, or more if your baby wants it.

5-6 months
mashed potato and


How to give

Prepare 1 or 2 teaspoons of food (usually rice cereal).  Use a clean bowl and spoon.  Mix the cereal with the baby's usual milk (expressed breastmilk or formula) or with boiled water.  Make it fairly runny at first.
Hold the baby comfortably on your lap or in a supporting chair.  Have a bib (feeder) and cloth close by.  It will be messy!
Put a little food from a small spoon well into your baby's mouth.  He may love it and take it well, or he may shout and spit it out.
It takes time to learn this new skill so be prepared for plenty of mess.  If your baby can't take, or doesn't want solids at first, leave it for a few days and try again.
Once your baby has learned how to take and swallow cereal from a spoon, you can try other foods.
Offer new foods one at a time, a few days apart so that he can learn how different foods feel and taste.
This way, you can make sure each new food 'agrees' with him.  If it doesn't, he may have vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash around the mouth or on the body, or excessive crying.
If your baby seems to have a definite reaction to a type of food, talk about it with your doctor or nurse.  If you are unsure, try the food again in a week or two.
Your baby's bowel actions may look and smell different, and some foods will come through unchanged at first. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
Do not add salt or sugar.  Let your baby learn the natural taste of foods.  Do not add honey.  It can cause a serious illness called botulism in young babies.
If your baby does not like one type of food, leave it for a week or so, then try again.  Meal times should be fun so do not force or even coax.  Keep offering though, as it can take several tries before babies accept new foods.
Once new foods have been accepted you can mix them together sometimes. This is easier and gives even more new tastes.  Keep offering food separately at other times.

Stage 2 - learning to chew
Soft lumps, 7 months to 8-9 months

When to give

Build up to three times a day. Towards the end of this stage you may like to give solids before milk and get into a routine of breakfast, lunch and tea.
Milk is still very important though, and you may prefer to breastfeed (or give a bottle) when the baby first wakes in the morning or after a nap, then give solids later with the rest of the family.
Bottle-fed babies usually have about 4 milk feeds a day at this age.  This routine suits some breastfeeding couples as part of gradual weaning, but others will like to feed more often. This is fine as long as the baby is taking some solids.  You can do whatever suits you and your family.
Foods to give 

Cereals - rice cereal and other baby cereals.  You can mix them with fruit or juice rather than milk to help iron absorption. Keep giving baby cereals most days in the first year to be sure your baby gets enough iron.  Do not mix baby cereals with other cereals, as this may stop iron being well absorbed.
Other cereal foods - rice, pasta, oatmeal, porridge, wheat flake biscuits (like Weetbix**), bread (eg rusks).
Vegetables - all sorts, cooked and mashed.
Fruits - as in Stage 1.  Add others if you haven't yet tried them (eg peaches, apricots, mango, paw paw).
Fish, meat, chicken - well cooked, moist, pureed to start with, then finely minced (or frozen and grated).
Milk foods - as in Stage 1.  Also try grated cheese, cheese sauces, milk puddings (eg semolina), cottage and cream cheese.
Egg - well cooked. Try a small amount first. If there is a strong family history of allergies such as eczema or asthma, or if the baby has eczema, do not give egg, especially egg white, until 12 months.
Mashed (but moist) or soft lumps.  Do not keep pureeing at this stage (except meat) as your baby may find it hard to learn to chew later.  Don't be too alarmed if she gags a little at first, that is how she clears her throat. Just give small amounts of soft lumps until she gets used to them.

fruit and rice custard
blended meat casserole
mashed potato
mashed carrot

How much

Two tablespoons to half a cup or more if your baby wants it.  You can offer two courses - a savoury and a sweet, at some meals.

How to give

By now your baby will enjoy sitting in a high chair at family meals, though you may find it easier to feed her first, then give her tastes of what the family is having.
Your baby is the only one who knows when she has had enough.  It is important that she learns to control her own eating if she is to avoid problems with weight now or later, so do not push her to take more than she wants.
This stage and the next are likely to be quite messy.

Babies learn about food the same way they learn about other things, by touching, squashing, spreading or even throwing, as well as eating.
Try to accept this exploring as normal, or take the plate away if it gets too much.  Don't pay a lot of attention or it might be repeated to get your reaction.
Use a big feeder on the baby (plastic ones are good) and put newspaper or plastic on the floor under the chair.
Storing baby food

Once food has been warmed and offered to the baby, throw out any left in the bowl.
Freshly cooked food should be kept in the fridge and used within 48 hours.
Food can be frozen to keep it longer.  You may like to prepare a quantity of vegetables or fruit then freeze it in ice-cube trays.  Store the cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer then just reheat one or two when you want them.
Prepared baby foods (in cans or jars)

These are quite alright for your baby if you want to use them.
They provide good nutrition and are safe (free from germs).
They are easy to use and convenient.
However, there are some good reasons for not using them all the time.

They are more expensive than home-cooked foods.
They don't help the baby get to know about normal foods. They look, taste and smell different. 
They have foods mixed together so the baby can't learn about each one.
Some babies get so used to them that it is hard to change to normal foods later.
Stage 3 - self feeding
Finger foods, firmer lumps:   8-9 months to 12 months

When to give

Offer three meals a day with some snacks.
Solids are now a bigger part of your baby's diet but he still needs milk.
If breastfeeding, feed as often as you (and your baby) want.
If bottle fed, 600-800 mls (21 - 28ozs) a day is plenty. Any more than this may mean your baby has no appetite for solids.
Foods to give

Cereals - keep giving baby cereals for their iron, as well as the other cereal foods in Stage 2 (at different meals).
Bread and toast are enjoyed now.
Vegetables - pieces of well cooked vegetables make good finger foods (eg carrot, potato, broccoli).
Fruit - hard fruits still need to be cooked or grated.  Soft ones can be given in pieces.
Fish, meat, chicken - cooked soft and moist, finely chopped or minced.
Legumes - baked beans, any dried peas or beans (well cooked), tofu.
Eggs (unless there is an allergy concern) - scrambled eggs, omelette, boiled eggs.
Milk foods as before.
Foods should now be left in pieces or chopped rather than mashed, though they still should be soft, or able to soften quickly in the mouth (eg rusks).

9 months on
finger food -
cooked vegetables
10 months on
finger food -
bread fingers, banana

No hard lumps, raw vegetable, hard raw fruit or nuts. These can cause choking in the first 5 years, as can snack foods, like popcorn and corn chips, whole or even halved grapes, raisins or sultanas, seeds and hard lollies.

How much

Appetites vary. Two courses can be given for main meals, about 1 cup for the first course and half a cup for the second but some children will want more or less than this.

How to give

Finger foods are popular at this stage and many babies insist on feeding themselves in this way.  Let your baby do this and try not to mind the mess.  It is all part of learning.
He is likely to object to being spoon fed, unless he can hold another spoon to practice with.
Wash his hands before a meal (as well as after). This is a good habit for your baby to learn.
Stay with your baby whenever he is eating, in case of choking.

Stage 4 - family diet with some changes, 12 months on

When to give

Offer three meals a day and snacks.
Keep giving milk - breastmilk is still very good for your toddler.
If using formula, you can either continue this or change to whole cow's milk.
Foods to give
Anything your family eats, but select a variety of healthy foods.  Gradually introduce spices and strong flavours if your family uses them.  Avoid very salty or sugary foods, processed or fatty foods.

Some foods will still need to be cut up (eg meats) but most children can chew well by now.  It is still important to avoid hard food that can cause choking, eg raw vegetables like carrot, fruit like apples, or whole nuts.  It is fine to give these foods grated or ground to a paste.

How much

This varies with appetite but some babies at 15 months will eat less than they did at 10 months!  Toddlers actually grow much more slowly than babies.