For your baby, eating is completely new. It’s best, in the early days, to learn from those first meals rather than look at them as a replacement for milk. Don't be surprised if your little one isn’t quite sure what to do, or if food is spat back out to begin with. Your baby may eat five teaspoons at one feed and very little at the next - it’s all normal.
It’s a good idea to gradually introduce your little one to a range of tastes and textures, and by giving them a variety of foods you’re keeping their diet nutritionally balanced too.
Health Canada recommends iron-rich foods for baby’s first complementary food, such as meats and infant cereals. Heinz Baby Rice is made with baby-grade rice and is fortified with key vitamins and minerals to aid in development.
Baby rice is probably one of the easiest first foods to prepare too. Simply mix a measured teaspoon of Heinz Baby Rice into a smooth, runny mixture, using your baby’s usual milk or water. Begin feeding your little one with a very small amount – say a measured teaspoon. Then slowly increase the amount up to 1-2 measured tablespoons over a number of days.
You’ll also find that puréed vegetables such as carrots, peas, green beans, and sweet potatoes are great first foods, as are unsweetened puréed fruits like apples and pears.
• Butternut squash
• Bell peppers
• Sweet potato
You can also try:
• Well-cooked red meat, chicken and fish, finely puréed with rice or vegetables.
• Smoothly puréed lentils, dhal or beans served with vegetables or rice.
Be adventurous with finger food – try soft, ripe fruit pieces, as well as tender-cooked vegetables and pasta pieces.
Most babies get all the nourishment they need from breast milk or infant formula until they’re around 6 months old. Every baby is different so the right time to move onto solids varies. If your little one isn’t quite ready at this age, there’s no rush – they’ll start in their own time. Don’t leave things much later than 6 months though, your little one could miss out on important nutrients needed for healthy growth, like iron to support proper red blood cell formation.
Begin your weaning adventure with smooth purees, so your baby can get used to non-liquid textures and learn how to move food around in their mouths. Once your little one has mastered this, you can introduce mashed food with soft lumps. This encourages your baby’s tongue flexibility and develops both chewing and speech muscles.
Here are some tell-tale signs to look out for when your little one is ready to start weaning:
• Your baby can hold their head up and has good head and neck control
• Your little one’s tongue no longer pushes food out of their mouth
• Your baby’s tongue moves food to the back of their mouth ready for swallowing
• You’ll find your baby’s mouth closes around the spoon and food stays in their mouth
• You’ll find your baby watches you eat and reaches for food
• Your little one leans forward and opens their mouth when food approaches
• Milk feeds no longer satisfy your baby
Many moms also talk about their babies starting to wake up hungry during the night and putting toys or hands in their mouths. Although these signs are common, they’re not 100% reliable.
When your little one is ready for food, start with a little smear of food on your child’s bottom lip for them to lick off for a little taster. It’s best that your little one isn’t too tired or hungry, so give them a little milk beforehand. When you start feeding from a spoon, start with just 1-2 teaspoons one mealtime. After a few days, try to give them food at two meals a day, and then three meals a day.
And as your baby’s natural iron store begins to drop by 6 months, it’s best to start feeding them iron-enriched food, like Heinz Baby Rice Cereal.
Be led by your baby as to how much they would like to eat, and gradually increase the number of teaspoons offered to around 4-8. When your little one is around 7 months old, they will be eating around 150ml of food each meal. But remember, if your little one shows signs of being full, then stop – they know when they’ve had enough.
To help you and your little one get started, we’ve put together some useful hints and tips for those first feeds:
• Choose a time when both you and your little one are relaxed – usually mid-morning or lunchtime
• Make your baby’s solids about half of their normal milk feed – otherwise they’ll get too full
• Start with a single food of smooth consistency, before trying mixed flavours of vegetables and fruits
• Sit your baby on your lap, or comfortably in their high chair and never leave them unattended.
• Use a small soft-edged baby spoon and offer a very small amount
• Don’t worry if your little one makes a face or even spits it out
• Encourage your baby with smiles. It’s important for them to know they’re doing well
• Take your baby’s lead to see when they’ve had enough. They’ll start batting the spoon away, shut their mouth, or turn their head.
Amazingly, your baby doesn’t need teeth to chew! Once your little one has become used to smooth textures and mild tastes, now is the time to gradually move them on to finely mashed foods.
You’ll find Heinz Farley’s Biscuits will help your baby with biting and chewing, plus help relieve discomfort from teething. They can be started early by mashing with breast milk, formula or previously boiled and cooled water to form a cereal.
Now is also the time to offer your little one lots of different foods and flavours. You’ll soon discover, the younger your little angel is, the more receptive they are to new foods.
Remember to always supervise your baby during mealtime.