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Mealtime tips for introducing solids
When you're first introducing solids, meals and mealtimes can be pretty flexible. Here are some tips to help with early meals:
- Choose a time of day when you and your baby are calm, relaxed and not in a rush.
- Wash hands, spoons, bowls and plates before eating or preparing food, but there's no need to sterilise anything.
- Sit your baby in a highchair, or somewhere safe, and feed her the food on a spoon.
- Give your baby a spoon to practise eating with. Sometimes it works if both you and your baby have spoons.
- Give your baby pieces of soft food, so he can try feeding himself.
When is the right time to start introducing solids? When your baby shows signs of being ready. This is around six months old, but not before four months.
Getting your baby interested in solid foods: tips
By the time your baby is 12 months old, she should be eating the same healthy foods that the rest of the family is eating. Here are some ideas for developing your baby's interest in new foods after she has started on solids:
- Offer foods that your baby is interested in - that is, foods that baby is reaching for or looking at.
- Talk with your baby about the food he's eating - what it is, what colour it is, how it tastes, where it grows, and how you cooked it.
- Offer your baby tastes of what you're eating to introduce the flavours of your home-cooked meals. This is also a good time for you to think about the foods you eat and enjoy healthy foods together as a family.
- As your baby starts eating more solids, feed her during family meals each day, if you can. Your baby might be more interested in food if the rest of the family is eating too.
- Be guided by your baby's interest and appetite levels. It's normal for your baby's appetite to change from day to day.
- If your baby refuses a new food, just offer it again tomorrow. Sometimes babies and children need to try new foods more than 10 times before they accept them.
It's normal for babies to make funny faces when they try new foods. If your baby makes a face, it doesn't mean he doesn't like the food.
Managing mealtime play and mess
You can expect your baby's eating to be very messy and slow. This is because eating is a skill that babies have to learn, including how to get food to their mouths. It's also because babies learn about the world around them by touching and playing with new foods.
Here are some ideas to help your baby get the most out of mealtimes and manage mealtime mess:
- Encourage your baby to explore foods with her fingers. This builds skills in other areas of her development, like fine motor skills and thinking.
- Try to stay calm and patient with your baby's mess. This will help your baby to enjoy mealtimes.
- Make cleaning up easier by spreading newspaper or plastic under the highchair and having a washcloth handy.
Introducing solids is about much more than just food! Once your baby is eating solids, mealtimes can become family time - time to talk, listen and bond with each other.