Starting your little one on solids can be a very exciting time, as it marks an important milestone in their early development as a child. Some people find it a little daunting, but if you follow your baby's lead and keep it simple, there's not much you can do to go wrong!
Starting on solids
Generally, the advice is to start your baby on solids at about the 6 month mark. By then, they will have developed enough to take on the challenge of eating new foods both physiologically and mentally. Starting too soon can have risks of choking as they may not be able to swallow properly yet, and feeding them up on foods instead of milk may starve them of the beneficial nutrients that their body needs at such a young age. Starting too late can increase their risk of developing allergies, so 6 months is definitely the good spot on when you should get started.
What to try first
It's recommended to start on fruit or vegetable purees, and avoid anything with too much added flavour. Introducing too much sugar in their first year can cause tooth decay, and too much salt is bad for their kidneys, so avoid anything like gravy granules, honey, or anything else that's processed. Also avoid cow's milk for any child under the age of one.
Consistency is key
Your baby is only used to swallowing breastmilk or formula, so whatever you offer up to them for the first few weeks must have a similar consistency - somewhere between a liquid and a solid. You can achieve this on thicker purees by mixing them with a bit of formula or breastmilk until it's just right. Once they master eating this from a spoon, you can start to experiment with thicker purees and more lumpy textures.
Slowly but surely
The majority of your baby's nutrients will still come from their milk until they're about one year old. It's important that you don't just suddenly switch this out, and slowly add solids to their diet over a few months until they're old enough to eat properly. We would recommend starting once a day, about an hour after feeding with a bottle - which is when they're at their happiest and not too hungry/grouchy.
Trust your baby
Don't try to force your baby to eat something that it clearly isn't enjoying. They are just mini versions of adults, with their own taste buds that are much more sensitive than ours, so anything with a distinctly strong taste may not be very enjoyable at first!
You may notice that if they feel under the weather or if they're teething, they don't fancy trying new foods and will lean towards having more milk - that's ok! Let them have days off if they don't fancy food, and let them feast if they're enjoying it another day.
Overall it's important that you make trying new foods a positive experience for your little one! Eating meals with your family is meant to be a happy, safe space, and it's good to start this nice and early. This way they will develop a much more healthy relationship with their diet and you will both learn and grow from the experience rather than feel stressed.
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