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Some babies go for solids in a big way right from the start, but others are more reluctant. A baby's first taste of solid food should be exactly that, just a taste, so don't be concerned that your little one isn't chomping through three bowls of baby food a day at the beginning. First foods should be in addition to the milk the baby normally has, not a replacement.

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to avoid potential allergies, excema and asthma. All babies are different though and there are a few signs that a baby is ready for solids.

  • The tongue stops thrusting everything out of the mouth
  • The baby grabs food off your plate
  • The baby copies you when you eat
  • The baby can sit up unaided
  • The baby opens its mouth for the food

If your baby isn't interested in solids at 6 months there is some argument for trying them with a spoonful of something each day as this is supposed to be the best time for them to learn about new tastes. Some people say that if you miss this ‘tasting window’ the baby will be a fussy eater in the future.

First foods

If you are worried about allergies there is a sequence of introducing solids for the allergic child developed by Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre. It lists foods and the age at which they should be introduced. The main things to avoid at first are nuts, wheat, unpasteurised cheeses and eggs. . Baby Organix have removed gluten from their stage 1 and 2 baby foods and clearly label those that are gluten and lactose free.

So, how do you make baby food? Choose a nice looking vegetable, a carrot or a potato and steam it to within an inch of its life. Squish this through a sieve and add the milk the baby normally has until it looks like thin mush. You can steam, squish and sludge food to freeze for the future, ice cube trays are a good way to do this, just freeze and decant into plastic bags when they are solid. Banana is a great first food, just mush some up with a fork, place that bowl in another with some hot water and stir ‘til it gets brown and mushy, no need to sieve.

Expressing milk

The most popular expressing pump is the Avent Isis. The easiest way to express is to do it first thing when you have the most milk. Start the baby off on one boob and when the baby activates the let down reflex unlatch it and put it on the other side. The milk should then pump quite easily but be careful not to overdo it at first or you risk sore nipples. The baby is used to and probably likes the taste of your milk so mixing it with steamed veg will make the solid food more palatable for them.

Second Stage Solids

When the baby is used to the slushy stuff you can start to introduce a bit more texture to the food, either by whizzing it to a less slushy consistency, mashing it roughly with a fork or adding flaked rice (from health food shops). Finger foods such as rice cakes or chips of steamed veg may go down well though you have to watch the baby in case it chokes. If it does choke, turn the baby upside down over your lap and give a sharpish tap to the centre of the back. This should dislodge the food. Never try to fish anything out of a babies mouth unless you are sure you can grab it as you may shove it further down the throat.

Bibs. Bowls and spoons

My 8 month old gets too distracted with bibs so I either feed him naked (him not me!), in already dirty clothes or I tie a dishcloth round his neck. Tommee Tippee sell a range of useful bowls. They have small containers with snap on lids that fit into a larger storage container with a small gap. I heat food by putting a defrosted ice cube of it into the smaller container and hot water in to the second. Stand the smaller in the larger and mix until the food is piping hot to kill off any lurking nasties then let it cool down again. You can get soft tipped heat sensitive spoons that show when the food is too hot for the baby, or you can test it on the inside of your wrist. It is handy to have 3 spoons when the baby starts to grab them. The baby grabs the first spoon, you use the second, the baby grabs the second, you use the third, the baby grabs the third, drops the first, you use the first. . . . . . this saves loads of arguments and tug of war games and I have been told it works with toast, rice cakes and slices of fruit.

Copyright Lisa Cole, http://www.lactivist.co.uk

The Mothers Milk Marketing Board at http://www.lactivist.co.uk sells pro-breastfeeding and gentle parenting advocacy slogan t-shirts and accessories for funky mums and kids.


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