Introducing solid foods

Remember that your baby’s stomach is only very tiny, so keep portion sizes small. Try not to worry if your baby does not seem to be eating much, as babies are generally good at regulating what they need and may be getting more food than you think.

Do not force food on them if they are unwilling to eat, as this can make meal times more stressful for both of you. The minute your baby starts to show signs of fullness e.g. closing their mouth, batting the spoon away or shaking their head, it is best to end the meal. If they have only one or two teaspoons of a savoury meal you could try offering a fruit based dessert. Remember the next meal time will be better! If your baby is gaining enough weight and appears healthy, you can be pretty sure they are getting enough nourishment. But if your baby continuously shows no interest in eating, their growth slows down, they seem lethargic or you are in any way concerned, speak to your healthcare professional.

General advice

  1. For the introduction of complementary food; once baby rice is well established, give one new food every day starting with root and green vegetables, progressing to cooked fruits e.g. apples and pears
  2. Fruits and vegetables are often best cooked first then moving onto raw once established
  3. It is useful to keep a food diary during this time
  4. Lumps should be increasingly incorporated into meals so that by seven months of age they are tolerating a lumpier texture as there is a narrow window of acceptance for these
  5. Choose protein rich sources for main meals
  6. Should you wish to increase the energy density of your baby’s meals, consider adding one or two teaspoons of olive oil to each of their main meals
  7. Babies should be encouraged to try “self-feeding” from around six months of age. This will be very messy to begin with, which is part of the aim. They should be allowed to play with items at mealtimes
  8. Messy play should increasingly be part of their activities as they get older – Emma’s Diary website has some great tips
  9. At mealtimes the following generalised routine should be followed:
    • Feed your baby when they are not too hungry or tired
    • Encourage your baby to self-feed and be led by how much they want to eat
    • Always provide finger foods and a spoon at each mealtime so they can practice new skills
    • Mealtime routines with a mealtime of 25 – 30 minutes as a maximum
    • Limit distractions and if there is little interest in food or active signs of not wanting to eat e.g. sealing lips, turning head away then finish the meal – learn to respect when your baby is full
    • Try not to compare how much your baby eats with others!
    • Some days they will eat more than others but on average over a week there will be a consistent nutrient intake
    • It is likely that only one meal of the day will be eaten well, the others may be moderate to poor. This is normal
    • Eat as a family where possible or at least one person should eat with your baby at the same time as feeding
    • Your baby’s stomach is approximately the size of its fist when it is clenched tight. It can only expand by two to three times so remember this when you are trying to feed them to make sure you give them a realistic amount of food
    • At mealtimes do not wipe your baby’s hands or face during the meal, allow them to get as messy as possible, playing with food and trying to self-feed
    • Incorporate aspects of baby led weaning so that you are giving puree and finger foods
    • Encourage messy play with foods such as dry and wet pasta
    • Try to have a relaxed approach to mealtimes and do not get anxious if they don’t eat much

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RXANI140098 Date of preparation: March 2014