Babies are ready for their first taste of solids from around six-months-old. It can be an exciting yet messy time for both you and bub! Sydney Local Health District's Child and Family Health Nurse Kim Dunlop talks us through the basics of getting started.
"When starting solids it's best to introduce very basic foods first, with the aim of transitioning to the foods you eat every day as quickly as possible" says Ms Dunlop.
Some babies will give you signs that they are ready by doing things like watching how you eat or trying to pick up your food.
Ms Dunlop suggests sharing your food with bub, so long as it's something soft. "If they're sitting at the table and you've got a soft potato, you can just give them some. You don't have to cook a special meal, just be sure to avoid things like chilli and spices" says Ms Dunlop
While you might have thought pureed food is the way to go for a baby learning to eat, it's actually better to leave their food a little lumpy. Dealing with some small lumps helps babies develop the muscles in their mouths to chew.
An easy way to get bub eating with the rest of the family is to make your normal meals, take some out for the baby and break it down to a consistency they can eat.
Ms Dunlop says it's important to let babies get messy while they're eating. "Give them a piece of banana and let them squeeze it in their hands, or let them try to hold a spoon – that's how they learn."
Starting solids also means it's time for baby to start drinking water (boiled from the tap, then cooled), from a sippy cup. They won't drink very much at first, but the water will help to avoid constipation.
While the guidelines recommend starting solids around the six-month mark, it's best to speak with a Child and Family Health Nurse if you're unsure. If you start on solids too early, your child might not be physically ready and if you wait too long, it gets harder. Babies are ready to learn to eat between six and eight months old.
Always supervise a child when they're eating. Never give a baby food and walk away because they could choke.