To reduce the risk of babies and infants developing food intolerances and allergies, the introduction of any solids should not occur until the child is between four and six months of age. Feeding should begin with one to two meals a day of three to four tablespoons. Traditionally first foods usually consists of pureed vegetables and fruit, rice cereals mixed with breast milk, formula or cooled boiled water. Vegetables may include potato, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini, sweat potato, parsnip. Fruits may include apple, pear, banana, apricots or melon.
It is recommended by most peak bodies such as The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergies (A.S.C.I.A), to introduce a new food every two days to ensure no allergies. Before your child is six months give solid foods after milk feeds.
Baby lead weaning is gaining popularity within the community.
Baby Led Weaning, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. The term was originally coined by Gill Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife. Baby led weaning acknowledges in many countries in the world infants after four to six months of age are getting family foods, which they can mash in their hands and eat with their fingers. This may include softer but more solid foods like potato, pumpkin, carrot sticks, fruit slices. Foods should have no added salt or sugar.
Before starting baby led weaning, it is important that your child shows signs of food readiness.
Signs of food readiness
Signs of food readiness in babies include salivating and dribbling, being able to hold up their head and sit without assistance or sit in a high chair, always strapped in. When sitting at the family dinner table they may be looking or taking a good interest in those eating around the table and may even be reaching out for food. This is also a good time to introduce them to drinking water from a cup.
Most babies reach for food at around six months, which is when Maternal and Child Health Nurses will advise the introduction of solids for most babies, in accordance with the WHO guidelines. The distinct advantage of introducing solids at around six months is that children are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food and don’t require all foods to be mushy. You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. The essence of Baby Led Weaning is no purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and vegetable combinations, just you and your child, eating food that you enjoy with you and your family.
Vegetables you may introduce at this time could include, beetroot, noodles, soft homemade potato chips, strawberries, pitta bread, avocado on bread, banana, boiled carrots, beans with no strings, broccoli and cauliflower tops. Fruits like pineapple, orange, mango. They will learn to suck on and remove fruit from the skin. They don’t need to be able to hold a spoon just an end to hold and a bit to chew. By nine to ten months your child may enjoy pieces of cooked mince meat, porridge or lamb chop to suck on or chew. The infant has a variety of foods, chooses his own food and feels in control. He or she will develop a liking for certain foods and this avoids the fussy resistance which happens with force feeding.
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergies (A.S.C.I.A)
Baby-led weaning by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett, 2012.