Another meal time is looming and you can’t, for the life of you, think of what to cook for your baby. You want to try something different, but what? Should my child be on solids, and if so, which ones?
According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding for the first 6 months is strongly recommended. That means that parents should ideally introduce solids only after this time.
After 6 months, your baby’s energy and nutrition needs start to exceed that which is provided by breast milk or formula milk alone. Supplementing your baby’s diet with pureed fruit and vegetables is the best way to start.
Signs that baby is ready for solids
There are a few obvious signs to look out for that will indicate that your baby is now ready for solids. These signs include:
- Can your baby hold his/her head up
- Sits well when supported
- Makes chewing motions
- Loss of tongue thrust reflex
- Has doubled his/her birth weight
- Is curious about what you’re eating
However, all babies are individuals, therefore introducing solids, gradually is the best approach. Your child is likely to first reject the food. Give her time to get used to new flavours and textures.
The 4 day rule
Always keep the -Four Day Rule’ in mind when introducing new food. Only try one vegetable, fruit, cereal or protein at a time for four days first to see if there is any adverse reaction. You need to make sure of this before combining different foods.
This is a perfect way to identify allergies that your baby may have.
Four to six months
Rice cereal, pureed butternut or sweet potato might not sound like the most appetising meal to you, but for your little on, this is a whole new exciting experience. Start off slowly with one tablespoon and gradually increase the portion over time.
Apple & Banana with Orange Juice: Puree 1 apple and mash it together with 1 ripe banana, add 1 tsp of orange juice.
Sweet Potato with Cinnamon: Puree 1 sweet potato with a pinch of cinnamon. Add some baby milk to get the right consistency.
Mashed bananas and avocado is an excellent and healthy ‘no cooking required’ choice of food for your baby. This is also a very convenient choice of meal.
Six to eight months
Babies appreciate more textures after 7 months. Here is where you can start adding, fleshy fruits and vegetables such as mango’s and cheese.
Mango/papaya and cottage cheese: Try 2 slices of mango or papaya and mash together with 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese until you achieve the required consistency.
Lentils are a good cheap source of protein and this recipe is ideal for the entire family. Follow the recipe below to prepare a hearty Lentil soup for the entire family.
Yoghurt and pureed fruit: Plain full cream yogurt mixed with your baby’s favourite pureed fruit. Or Kiri cheese mashed with avocado.
½ onion finely chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
1 TBS vegetable oil
50 g split red lentils
1 potato, peeled and chopped
350ml vegetable stock (homemade is best without salt) or water
1) Sautee onions, carrot and celery in vegetable oil for approximately 10mins.
2) Add lentils and potato and pour over water or stock. Bring to the boil, turn down heat and simmer until soft. Puree in a blender.
8 months is when you can start experimenting with chicken, beef, lamb, tofu as well as other beans and legumes.
Nine to twelve months
By nine months your baby will probably want to start feeding him/herself. Start introducing some finger food, to help assert your baby’s new found confidence. This is also the messy eating stage. But be patient. Remember this is a great way to keep your baby busy.
Your baby’s taste buds have developed considerably from the butternut days, and she can handle more bitter flavours like that of Broccoli and cucumbers.
Broccoli and cauliflower with grated cheese for extra temptation. Or Cucumber sticks with tzatiki. Opt to make your own tzatiki with Greek yogurt and finely chopped cucumber and mint.
There are various opinions as to when to introduce eggs to your baby’s diet. Some say from 9 months onwards and some suggest you wait until they are a year old. Whatever you decide, make sure that the egg is fresh and cooked properly. Another great meal idea is French toast with Marmite. Cut the bread into bite sizes.
From 1 year onwards, spaghetti bolognaise, soft cheeses, nuts, strawberries, cow’s milk,
Don’t be tempted to give your baby sweets or crisps. It is up to you to make the healthy choice for them.