Introducing Solids into a baby’s diet

Current new recommended weaning practices differs greatly from the way we introduced solids in the past. For more info and a diet plan click here

Latest research showed that children tend to be less allergic to foods that are introduced between 4-8 months compared to foods that are withheld for a prolonged period. Also children that are weaned after 6 months tend to become very difficult and picky eaters. Taking the above into account the ideal time to start introducing solids into a baby’s diet is then between 4-6 months. This means starting not before 4 months and not after 6 months.

Carbohydrates used to play a very big role in weaning practices before, but the emphasis now falls onto healthy veg, fruit, proteins and fats rather. We try to introduce the baby to as many different tastes and textures to as possible. There are no foods that are off limits, unless baby showed an allergic reaction against the food.

Foods are preferably home cooked or steamed, pureed and frozen into portion sizes. This allows the parent to not only control exactly what goes in and the texture, tastes and combinations, but also gives a more nutritious and natural diet. Textures must slowly but surely become more ‘rough’ to introduce baby to chewing, and finger foods must be introduced early on at around 6 months to encourage self-eating or baby led weaning.

I normally recommend 1 meal for the first week, 2 meals for week 2 and 3 meals in week 3.

Every 4-5 days a new food can be introduced into the diet. I normally do a veg or 2 the first week at lunch or supper and then week 2 introduce a fruit for breakfast. Continue with a new food every 3-4 days and then by week 3 introduce more veg for the lunch or supper.

Foods can be flavoured from week 2-3 with healthy oils like Olive, Macadamia, Avo, Grapeseed, Flaxseed or Coconut. Foods can also be flavoured with herbs, but not salt and pepper or spices.

After 1 month of eating introduce healthy protein and fat by adding plain full cream yoghurt (can be mixed with fruit) and nut butters. This can include peanut butter, or macadamia, or almond or mixed nut butters. Available at health stores. Also start with things like lentils and beans.

After 2 months of eating add the other proteins like chicken, egg, fish, red meat etc.

At 8 months I normally recommend the child to be slowly incorporated into the same diet as the family – just mashed into smaller pieces.

By 1 year the toddler must be able to feed himself from a plate the same as the family.

Always remember that eating is a social behaviour and weaning and introduction of food must be done in a similar manner by letting the baby join the family while eating and introducing things in a fun way. Generally they eat better if they are being fed at the same time as the rest of the family, and on another person’s lap as they associate food (drinking milk) with being held close.

Have lots of patience as sometimes a baby does not immediately take to a new taste. Sometimes something needs to be introduced up to 21 times before a child will be happy to eat it. It is very normal to gag or spit of vomit when eating especially with new tastes or textures being introduced.

Portion sizes are about 15ml to start off with, but will vary according to your baby’s needs. Some babies still want more thereafter whereas others will stop before it is finished. Look and respond to your baby’s cues.

There are no absolute right or wrong. Just follow the basic guidelines by introducing variety in taste and texture, start between 4-6 months, be patient with your baby and have fun – you will be doing well!!