Your Little One – Starting On Solid Foods
It can be confusing for mom’s to know when their little one should be starting on solids, as it seems that everyone has an opinion and the only thing mom’s want is to know what is best for their child.
It is generally accepted that somewhere between four and six months of age your baby will be ready to begin eating solid foods, prior to that they should have received only breast milk or formula. If you have questions about your infant’s nutrition you should seek professional advice from your health care provider.
A good indicator that your little one is ready for solids is that they will follow your spoon when you are trying to eat, they will grab at it and try to place things into their mouths. Let your infant’s awareness of food become consistent before you give them solids; your little one grabbing at a piece of fruit one day does not amount to their desire to eat solids, you will see a consistent and obvious awareness of food when your little one is ready for solids. Sometimes this will happen at four months and sometimes it will happen when they are older. You know your baby best, but remember that their digestive system is not as developed as ours and for that reason we are often advised to delay starting on solids.
It should be noted that the World Health Organization advises:
“Infants should be exclusively breastfed – i.e. receive only breast milk – for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. “Exclusive breastfeeding” is defined as giving no other food or drink – not even water – except breast milk. It does, however, allow the infant to receive oral rehydration salts (ORS), drops and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medicines).” from their website
What You’ll Need When Starting On Solids
When your baby is ready for solid food, somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age, you’ll need a few key supplies. This is a whole new ball game in the area of mess, and you will want to be prepared. Some things like spit up cloths and bibs are fairly obvious, but you will also need bowls and infant spoons soft enough to keep gums and tiny teeth protected (don’t worry – not all babies have teeth at this stage). Not only will your baby start to eat solids, but they will also start to drink fluids on their own, and this means that they may move to a sippy cup before too long.
A High Chair Is Very Handy
There are a number of different high chair models, and you don’t need one with all the bells and whistles. The simplest of high chairs will do the same job, keep your infant secure while they are learning to eat solid foods. The most important feature of a high chair is how easy it is to clean – once your little one starts to feed themselves, you will find that more food ends up on the floor, in their hair and on the high chair tray than what your baby seems to eat. Starting on solids can be a messy affair, so a cleanable high chair can wind up being your favorite baby item.
A high chair will also keep your infant secure, giving you two free hands to help your little one navigate their cutlery and allow you to feed them more effectively when they are first starting on solids and need you to feed them.
You can get a number of different high chairs. There are free standing high chairs, a seat that will hook on to your counter or table or even a portable high chair which clips on to a regular kitchen chair. These will all do the job of keeping your little one secure while they eat. A full sized high chair on wheels may make your life easy however, as they are typically easy to clean and have wheels allowing you to move your infant around harnessed into their seat without having to take them out. No matter which type of high chair you select, make sure that it is easy to clean as you will find food gets into all high chair crevices when you’re starting on solids.
Bowls and Plastic Containers
You will need bowls suitable for an infant learning to eat for themselves. These bowls are typically plastic or melamine and some parents like the varieties which have a plastic suction cap on the bottom to prevent your little one up ending their food onto the floor. You want plates which are heavy duty – they are going to be washed and dried a great many times and you don’t want bowls which are going to have images or plastic scraping off after just a few uses.
You will also need more plastic containers. Infant food can be made in bulk and frozen to reduce waste and allow increased variety in your little one’s diet. Buy plastic containers that are sturdy and durable as well as dishwasher and microwave safe.
There is also a growing concern about the effects of BPA on your health. BPA is found in our plastics and other instances and has been since the 1960’s. If you are worried, you should avoid using plastic containers to heat up your infant’s food and there are also options for glass bottles and containers you can use when feeding your little one. You can read our article on BPA here if you would like to find out more.
While there are some beautiful cutlery sets available for infants, they are not all practical. If your little one is eating off metal cutlery extra care should be taken that they do not damage the sensitive lining of their mouth and their newly emerging teeth. Infant cutlery is usually a spoon, and one made of plastic or tipped with rubber is easier on your baby’s teeth and gums. You also want cutlery which will fit easily into your little one’s mouth. the best cutlery to use is that specifically designed for babies who are starting on solids. Remember that their cutlery needs to be long wearing; they will be used and washed many times a day and if you are worried about plastics it should also be BPA free.
Sippy Cups – For When Your Baby Doesn’t Want A Bottle
Almost before you know it, your little one will want their own cup instead of a bottle. This is especially true when your little one has older siblings and your infant wants to be just like them. Sippy cups will generally be introduced before your little one is a year old. They are generally heavy duty (these cups will go through many testing times) and are designed for your little one to be easy to hold and drink from as well as many of them being spill resistant.
Designed with handles and a spout for easy drinking, sippy cups will give your little one a sense of independence as they learn to drink for themselves. When you are choosing which sort of sippy cup to give to your little one, try to avoid those with a straw – they are typically hard to clean and they also have a tendency to spill more easily. Once again, if you are concerned about plastics, BPA and phthalates, there are plenty of alternatives including metal drinking containers designed specifically for infants.