What you need to know about starting solids in NZ is all here!
When your baby heads towards that 6-month mark, so many things begin to change! One thing that can happen is starting solids. It can be a super exciting time but oh so daunting!
Today I wanted to bring to you the ultimate guide to solids. Things that I really wished I knew would have made the transition to solids a little bit easier and helped me feel more prepared.
Knowledge is power, and you are going to feel totally powerful at the end of this post!
Grab our nappy bag ESSENTIALS packing list and never feel unorganized again!
Is Your Baby Ready For Solids?
The big question! There is so much to go through when it comes to your baby being ready for solids. You know your baby best but always follow the guidance of your healthcare professional.
There are a few main things you must know when deciding if your baby is ready for their first solid foods.
SO exactly what you need to know about starting solids is all here!
Signs They Are Ready
There are a few telltale signs to keep an eye out for when you are starting to think your baby might be ready for their first solid foods!
Babies are pretty good at knowing when it is best for them, and that is really helpful when it comes to starting solids. Your baby will know before you will. Keep an eye out for the signs…
- Your baby can hold their head up by themself and hold it well
- Will be watching you eat and be interested in food
- Open their mouths for a spoon or food
- Seems unsatisfied or still hungry after milk feeds but doesn’t want more milk
- Doesn’t use their tongues to push food out
Starting Solids Too Early
Starting solids too early can be detrimental to your baby’s gut and can be dangerous if they aren’t physically and mentally ready.
It is recommended to start solids at 6 months; some babies may start a little before that or a little after completely up to each different baby.
You will know it is too soon, pretty clearly. Your baby will use their tongue and push the food out of their mouth. It is a pretty clear no thanks when you see it.
What To Avoid When Starting Solids
There are so many foods to avoid when starting solids, so make sure you do your research good and thoroughly.
The main foods your baby doesn’t need and can’t process are:
None of these ingredients we enjoy so much are needed or any good for your baby who is just starting solids.
Why Water Is So Important
Water has so many benefits for us as adults, and the benefits don’t stop when it comes to your baby drinking water!
Teaching your baby to drink water from a cup or sippy cup is really good for their teeth in the long run, as a bottle in time can actually have effects on their teeth.
Like I say, always talk to your health care/ support team about anything you are unsure of when it comes to your baby.
Drinking water also means if your baby starts gagging, a bit of water may help calm them down and move that pesky food.
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The Scary Thoughts…
There can be so many scary thoughts and feelings when your baby is about to start eating solids. With time it will feel way less overwhelming. But here is what scared me from one mum to another.
Always keep an eye out for allergic reactions when trying new foods. Allergic reaction symptoms can look like but are not limited to:
- Swelling in the lips, eyes, or face
- Red patches or lumps appearing
- Your baby becomes very unsettled
If you notice those symptoms, the best thing to do is to head to your local emergency department for advice; better to be safe!
Allergic reactions can be few and far between, but they definitely worried me in the early days! It is a normal fear. I put together a little bag with nappies, wipes, and a spare change of clothes for if we had to go quickly, and it gave me peace of mind!
Choking can feel like such a scary thought! If you start your baby on very pureed food with their chosen breast milk or formula in it, that is going to help discourage any choking in the really early days.
The reason water is a great thing to teach your baby to love is if they start gagging, you can offer them water to help wash the food down.
Remember gagging and choking are different things; if your baby starts gagging at any stage of the solid journey, then offer them water.
If you think your baby is choking, firm pats on the back will help to dislodge any stuck food. The chances of choking on soft and pureed foods are limited, but sometimes different sensations can cause gagging.
Always stay calm in any of these situations, as your baby will feed off your energy! Offering water can wash down any stuck foods.
To feel more informed or learn to manage choking, you could do a health and safety course or seek further education.
What Are The Basics When Starting Solids
So what do I really need to know? Well, here is all the important stuff!
What you need to know about solids is that the main part of your baby’s diet for so long is still milk.
Breastmilk Or Formula Is Still A Main Part
Breastmilk or formula is still the most IMPORTANT part of your baby’s diet. Feeding your baby a milk or formula feed before offering them solids is vital in the early days.
Breastmilk or formula has so many goodies that are so so important for your baby’s growth and well-being, so remember, until around 8 months, breastmilk and formula are still the most important food.
At 8 months, your baby will still have a decent amount of formula or breast milk!
Texture Of First Foods
Your first foods are going to be pureed. Purees are similar enough to milk that they aren’t going to alarm your baby.
Purees are essentially liquid food. You cook whatever food you intend to feed to your baby in the water, boiling it well. You can then put it into a blender with a bit of the water you cooked it in and blend it until it is smooth.
From there, we would add breastmilk into it to cool it down and then spoon-feed the liquid food/puree to our baby!
Remember to always test your foods before you feed them for temperature.
What Types Of Food Make Good Stage One Food
Some examples of stage-one foods are:
- Iron-filled baby rice
- Cooked pureed veggies;
- Cooked Pureed Fruit;
- Cooked pureed chicken
Always remember to go for a smooth, runny texture when introducing solids.
How To Feed
If your baby is ready for solids, then feeding your baby will be easy! They should understand the idea of opening their mouth for food and should open right up!
With our baby, we put some freshly expressed breastmilk onto a spoon and started from there. She got a few days of practice in before we offered her a puree.
When feeding your baby, put a little onto the spoon and help put it into their mouth. From there, allow them to figure out how to swallow/eat it.
Have water on hand for if your baby gags and to help wash down their food. Water is very healthy for the bowels etc.
Things I Didn’t Know When Starting Solids
Some fun facts I had no idea about when we were about to start solids! What you need to know about starting solids is in these fun facts!
Babies Don’t Need
There is a whole range of foods babies actually don’t need! I would have never thought about the foods babies don’t need and can’t process.
Babies aren’t designed to digest these food types, so they don’t need to have them.
Commercial Foods Are Different
When buying commercial pouches from the supermarket, some foods that aren’t suitable for babies at stage 1 might be included in stage 1 pouches.
This is because commercial blenders can blend some foods safely that at home you might not manage to. That is why berries can be found in 6+ month pouches but are not recommended to feed at home.
Babies Eat Barely Anything
When you first introduce solids, your baby might only have one or two spoonfuls. They can be like that for a while and gradually build up to more food more times a day.
It is weird for us as fully functioning adults who eat huge meals when your little baby eats like two spoonfuls and is full!
Babies Really Like Mixed Foods
When introducing foods, generally, it is recommended to start with one and then add to it, but never add three at a time.
This is in case of an allergic reaction. It is easier to figure out what caused the allergic reaction. If you add one new food, you can manage this a lot easier!
Babies really enjoy mixed-up pumpkin and potatoes or kumara and carrot! Blending veggies gets more nutrients into your baby and helps get them used to all sorts of tastes!
What Are The ‘Stages’ As Said By Wattie’s
Wattie’s has a great guide based on four stages that are really helpful for starting solids!
We always love a no-fuss, super clear guide. Those guides make mum life so much simpler.
What you need to know about starting solids is made simple in their easy 4 stage guide!
Stage 1 is your introductory stage! This is where you first introduce solids to your baby by feeding puree and trying things like baby rice etc.
Your baby may only have a spoon or two when they begin solids, and it may add up; it is normal for your baby to only eat a tiny bit.
This is a period where you work up to eating more regularly and enjoying solids. Getting your baby comfortable with eating solid food takes time but is a really fun process once you get into it.
Stage 2 takes place around 7 months old. Your baby might be;
- Drinking water from a sippy cup
- Starting to become interested in finger foods
- Leaning into their spoon or food
- Sitting by themselves
- Have teeth
- Learning to chew or bite
During this time, you can start feeding mashed foods and bits with soft, small lumps. You can add vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Babies can also have cooked eggs from this time on… it is important to keep a close eye out for any allergic reactions at this point too.
Cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese can also be introduced at this time! Your baby will be eating more and having 2-3 meals a day. All babies are different, don’t forget that.
Stage 3 takes place at around 8 months old. Your baby may start to have a wider variety of foods and textures, and they will have some finger foods!
Your baby’s food can be chunky but soft at this stage! Your baby can have ripe soft fruits; they can have some cooked spinach and silver beet! There are so many exciting foods that get added at this stage.
Your baby, at his point, can be having 3 meals a day with snacks in between, and your baby may be having less milk!
This stage means your baby may be:
- Chewing and biting well
- Eating more independently
- Showing interest in lots of foods
- Taking swallows of water from a cup!
This stage takes place from 12 months onwards, and it is when your baby essentially begins to eat with the family.
Your baby can have chunky soft fingers foods and minced and grated foods now! At a year old, your baby can now have honey and full-fat cow’s milk!
Your toddler at this stage may be:
- Feeding themselves finger food
- Using a spoon to feed themselves
- Holding their cup of water to drink from it
- Chewing food well
- Chewing a variety of textures…
Check out this website for more helpful info from Wattie’s on what foods your baby can have and how to feed them!
The Best Way To Make Your Baby’s First Foods
What you NEED to know about starting solids involves how to make your babies first foods!
Prep The Vege
To create a puree for your baby, start by washing the vegetables thoroughly under running water. Peel and remove any seeds or pits.
You don’t want anything in your baby’s food that could be a choking hazard, especially for their first few tries, so remove anything stringy or chunky.
Chop the vegetables into small, uniform pieces to ensure even cooking.
Cook In Water
Steam or boil the vegetables until they are soft and tender. Drain any excess water and let them cool slightly.
You can either do this in a pot and cook them until soft, which can be a bit more time-consuming than the other option;
You can boil your jug; find a microwave-safe container, jug, or bowl. Pour the boiling water in and pop it in the microwave.
I always start with 5 minutes, then you can do more until your food is cooked soft enough to puree or mash up.
Puree In A Nutri Bullet/ Blender
Transfer the cooked vegetables to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If needed, add a small amount of water or breast milk/formula to achieve the desired consistency.
The breastmilk or formula not only helps reach the desired consistency but will help your baby to enjoy their first taste of food.
Serve the puree immediately or store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to three days. Remember to always test the temperature before feeding it to your baby.
What You Need To Know About Starting Solids NZ…
Now you know everything you need to know about starting solid, you are well on your way to having those first special moments of feeding your baby ‘big kid’ food.
Remember, there are so many amazing resources over at Wattie’s! Especially for the Kiwi families, utilizing this information for starting solids is helpful.
Feeding your baby is an exciting time; they are growing up, but it can feel so overwhelming. I know it sure overwhelmed me, but now my baby loves food.
Following her cues always makes life easiest, trust your baby knows when they are ready and how much they want! You got this, mumma… What you need to know about starting solids is all here.