Starting solid food – oh it’s super messy, very frustrating, but a lot of fun. And it’s fascinating too, watching your munchkin discover food in all its glory, from the first mouthfuls of gloopy puree to self-feeding chubby fistfuls of fodder.
Getting your kid on to the real food takes some time and a bit of patience, but it’s not an exact science. So we’re not preaching hard and fast rules but just offering up a mini-survival guide from us mummies (and daddies!) who’ve already ventured into the feeding pit.
When to get started
The official advice is to wait until baby reaches six months, but it’s only a guide and it’s fine to take the plunge before. As long as they’re at least four months, not wobbly (i.e. they can sit up, and with their head still), often baby will let on they’re willing and able. Trying to swipe your morning breakie? Chewing their hand off? Or grumpy after a feed when milk alone is just not cutting it anymore? Baby may be dropping heavy hints it’s time to dish up dinner, folks.
Lights, camera, action
An obvious one maybe, but hey baby’s first feed will definitely be one for the baby book, so be armed and ready to shoot some family snaps with the camera.
Baby rice is nice, but…
Many people start with plain baby rice and that’s totally okay. But if you want to offer up something else for the first taste sensation, go forth and puree as you wish. The idea is to start simple (and super smooth), then think about unleashing your inner Jamie Oliver by experimenting with a few mixes. Spinach, pea and apple was a hit at our highchair. Of course, it involved splattered green-ness up the kitchen wall. And that brings us nicely to …
There. Will. Be. Mess.
Oh there will be mess. On the first day. And the second day. And the 78th day. So choose your bibs wisely. Cover yourself. Cover the floor. Heck, cover the dog. And wipes will be your best friend from this day forward.
Try and try again. Then try again.
It’s often said babies often need exposure to a certain food or flavour up to 15 times before they decide ‘Ooh yeah, I like this now’. Fifteen times! This is where the ‘being patient’ bit comes in. So if your little one doesn’t like something, don’t be afraid to go for round two, then three, and four… you get my drift. Anyway, some babies will spit out the offending nosh, others will simply let it fall straight out of their mouth before it’s barely in. Warning: This may be followed by baby smearing rejected foodstuffs across every available surface. (Back to the above point.)
Finger food first?
Baby-led weaning – where you skip the whole puree-ing malarkey and go with finger food from the offset – is a hit with many mamas. On the plus, it encourages independent feeding; a chance for baby to control and experiment with how much goes in their gob, and your heart will do a little ‘aww’ when you watch some super cute self-discovery. On the downside, more stuff everywhere (see: There. Will. Be. Mess. – again).
Expect funny faces
A lot of funny faces. Faces you’ll never have seen your kid make before. New flavours, tastes and textures are going to do that. (Hence the camera reminder – these faces need to come back on a 21st birthday photo wall).
Never underestimate the power of the aeroplane
Every kid, regardless of age, loves ‘here comes the aeroplane!’ Aeroplane shaped spoons are optional (but pretty cool).
Be their cheerleader
This learning to eat business isn’t always easy for our offspring to grasp, but positivity pays off and little people love a happy audience willing them on. So be their biggest supporter through the whole journey. With every triumph, however big or small (from the first food successfully sampled to drinking from a sippy cup on their own), make sure the crowd goes wild; go in for a high five, or just scoop them up for a celebratory dance around the highchair.
Just watch where you’re stepping.