When starting out on solids, it’s recommended to start with vegetables and fruits first rather than meat, mainly because they’re easier to digest. Personally, I wanted to stay away from introducing fruits first off, because of the fructose (a type of sugar) naturally found in fruit. Don’t get me wrong; fruit is still a good option and has a lot of health benefits. But I didn’t want my little grub getting a taste for the sweet stuff and never going back! So I opted to start with vegetables.
Steaming, boiling or roasting and then pureeing using a stick blender or food processor is the way to go. In terms of vegetables, I first introduced butternut pumpkin. I found this to be more flavoursome than the traditional crown pumpkin (although both can easily be found in the supermarkets). But you could start with kumara or carrot too. Remember, this is your little one’s first taste of proper food so you want something that’s got a bit of flavour to it – potato can be a bit boring (unless it’s deep fried and covered in salt! Jokes…)
When it comes to utensils, bowls, plates and sippy cups, the only thing you’ll need to start off with are some soft spoons, a bib and a sippy cup (or you can use a shot glass if you want to miss the sippy cup stage, we used a combination of both as sometimes you need a bottle for water when you’re on the go). Little grub loved the shot glass at home; we’d even use a normal cup. He liked to copy us! At 11 months, we still don’t use plates and he eats everything with his hands, so don’t worry about buying any ergonomic spoons and forks just yet. You’ll need a decent bib and there are lots of different ones out there; in a few weeks, our Newsletter will let you in on our favourites that worked really well so make sure you sign up! (You should’ve seen a pop-up by now if you’re reading this)
I started with one vegetable and then introduced others to it. For example, I made a batch of pumpkin and froze 3 cubes of just pumpkin. Then I mixed some steamed and pureed carrot to the pumpkin and froze 3 cubes of that. Then I added kumara. And so on and so on. This way you can pinpoint any allergies as you’re only adding in one vegetable at a time, whilst also quickly introducing more variety and flavours. I knew that by around 6 months my boy needed to be eating meat for the iron he needed. So I found I had to move quite quickly through the introduction of the vegetables to get up to introducing meat. I found this to be the case anyway. I didn’t bother with trying one vegetable at a time in isolation – that would have taken forever!
Avocado is also a great first food for babies. However, I never gave it to my grub by itself, as it has a pretty neutral taste. So I mashed it in to the pureed vegetables just before I fed him and it makes the vegetables so super creamy! Delicious!
When you’re first offering some food, don’t be put off if he or she turns their nose up. It’s a weird texture, smell, taste for them – they’ve only every had liquid up until this moment. Just keep trying with a few more spoonful’s and if they’re not having a bar of it, put it away. Try again tomorrow. Keep trying, keep being persistent – it’s not your cooking! When it comes to portion sizes, start out small. I’m sure you all know that at around 6 months, breast milk or formula is still the most important nutrition for your baby. But by around 8 months, the tide starts to turn, and solids become more important. So if you’re little grub is still taking a lot of milk and isn’t that interested in their food, try cutting the milk back and offering more food. At this stage, generally babies are pretty good self-regulators and will tell you when they’re full. So if they’re still hungry and wanting more; give it to them! Especially when you’re up to giving three meals a day. The only time I limited food was at morning tea, because it was so close to lunch time and I wanted to make sure he ate a decent meal then.
What meal might you start trying solids? Lunch time is a good one; the morning rush is over and there’s still lots of time to get to a doctor if need be (we talk about introducing allergens next month, and you’ll see why I made this comment!). We started with lunch, then when he was taking about ½ a cup of food at this time, we then moved on to dinner and then breakfast.
And remember, vegetables have such delicious flavours by themselves, we don’t need to mask it with apple juice or sweet fruit puree. Your little grub has never tried any of this before, so they won’t know any different.
Here’s a link to a yummy kumara and chickpea recipe, plus we have more popular vege combinations coming up this week – stay tuned!