Peel, chop, steam, puree… weaning your baby is a whole new world of culinary adventures. What will my baby eat? What baby food will she spit out? And what colour will her poop be the next day?
While pureeing baby foods is a pretty safe way to introduce your bub to food, many of us mums want to think outside the blender. My daughter, for example, refuses anything she can’t eat herself so purees were off the menu pretty quickly.
Instead, we opted for a modified baby-led weaning approach that left me googling ‘can my baby eat that?’ before every meal. There are so many rules and stipulations around introducing certain foods to baby and, honestly, I can’t keep up.
Do you wait until 10 months for egg? Can she have whole milk before 12 months if it’s cooked? What’s the deal with peanut butter?
These are only some of the many things I had NO IDEA about.
So we went to the source, Sydney City Nutritionist, Jennifer May (BHsc) to discover just when is the right time to introduce your baby to these commonly confusing foods
Introducing common foods to baby
Eggs fully cooked (pureed) – After six months.
Eggs fully cooked (scrambled) – After seven to eight months.
Eggs runny (sunny side up) – Not until after 18 months.
Jennifer says: “Eggs should be introduced in smaller amounts initially – go for around one tsp of cooked egg. Do this three times in the first week before increasing to one tbsp.
Give your baby eggs regularly prior to age one for improved tolerance and reduced risk of allergy (according to the recent update to allergy guidelines). If you see any vomiting/red splotches around the mouth or rashes after consuming eggs, remove for a few weeks and then reintroduce at the lower volume again.”
Whole milk cooked in meals – From six months onwards.
Whole milk as a drink – After one-year-old.
Reduced-fat milk cooked in meals – From six months onwards, if this is necessary.
Reduced-fat milk as a drink – After one-year-old.
Tuna – From six months old.
Sushi (cooked, at home) – Some would say that this is ok from six months if it has been cut into pieces to reduce choking risk.
Sushi (raw pieces) – The theory on this ranges from 2.5 years to five years old.
Jennifer says: “The variance is very much cultural. I personally recommend no younger than three years old to ensure optimum immunity.”
Broccoli – From four to six months onward.
Spinach – From four to six months onward.
Cabbage – From four to six months onward.
Jennifer says: “For these types of veggies, steam and puree initially. As they develop the skills to chew (watch the mouth movements) you can give mashed – then when teeth arrive, allow them to bite off chunks. However, keep the veg well-cooked – soft enough to squash between your thumb and forefinger.”
Tomatoes – Pureed from six months, chopped/mashed from eight months.
Citrus fruits – Small amounts ages nine to 12 months may be ok but watch their response. If you notice swelling, rashes or blotches – remove this food and discuss it with your child’s GP.
Blueberries – Six months. Bite them and squish them first to prevent choking. For smaller babies puree or mash.
Grapes – Pureed from eight months. Chopped (smaller than pea size) from nine months or so.
Jennifer says: “Once they have teeth they love to feed themselves grapes but still only give chopped form as grapes are a primary choking hazard.”
Spices – From four to six months onward.
Garlic – After six months or one to two months of starting solids (whatever comes first), always thoroughly cooked and initially pureed into foods, later cooked soft enough and cut to pea-size or can be squashed between thumb and forefinger.
Jam – There’s no real reason to give children jam prior to age three or four.
Honey – Not until after age one due to botulinum toxin risk.
Peanut butter – Start this after six months, very small amounts, only using smooth peanut butter.
Jennifer says: “If you see a possible reaction, remove and discuss with your GP. The general allergy management for peanuts is that children introduced prior to one year old are less likely to have allergies.”
Toast pieces – From six to eight months onward.
Chocolate – Save this until later – after two years old if possible.
Jennifer says: “Though small exposure is not risky, children are sensitive to sugar and theobromine in chocolate (which acts like caffeine) could cause issues with sleeping. In addition, regular exposure to sweetened foods may cause aversion to healthy fruits and vegetables.”
Quick tips for starting solids
Start with veg: “I’d advise parents to begin with vegetables, particularly those which are easy on digestion such as pumpkin, zucchini, spinach. These foods are well tolerated by most.”
Add fruits a bit later: “Once you’ve established a pattern of eating, you can then start adding in fruits to the mix. I prefer fruits to be mixed with vegetables initially to reduce the volume of sugar.”
Choose the right dairy: “I recommend yoghurt first – full fat of course. If it can also be organic, great. Babies love yoghurt (even the sour kind) so this is a great back-up meal for when they are having fussy days (or if you’re exhausted).”
Keep the spoon handy: Jennifer also suggests that, although allowing your little one a chance to taste test through baby-led weaning is great, it’s also a good idea to feed them with a spoon too, just so you know they are getting some nutrients in and not just all over the floor.
“Baby-led weaning teaches independence but can cause under-eating. Later (closer to one year old) you’ll have no choice – it’ll mostly be baby-led as they develop independence. So I’d recommend just enjoying the months of being able to feed them a balanced diet easily -while they’ll still take the spoon.”
Even more baby food fun
If you are looking into adding solids to your baby’s diet, we’ve got a few more stories that may pique your interest: