Getting baby off to a solid start

Getting baby off to a solid start

Starting solid food is a big step for babies, and while it’s an exciting time it can also be quite challenging.

What foods do you start with? Will baby eat them?

Commercial baby foods are popular choices, but how do store-bought baby foods compare with homemade foods in cost and nutrition?

Taste the difference

One study of store-bought baby food found almost two-thirds were sweet based.

The label may say ‘no added sugar’ but things like added fruit juice and fruit puree make baby foods sweeter.

What’s worrying is this can lead young children to prefer sweeter store-bought foods over homemade meals as they grow-up because of their sweet taste.

Feed baby’s gut bugs

Studies are showing baby’s gut health may be better if fed fresher homemade foods.

These help the healthy gut bugs (or microbes) grow. We are starting to learn more about how the good gut bugs play a role in healthy bowel habits, gut health and wellbeing.

Eating as a family

Making foods from what the rest of the family eats helps a baby become familiar with family foods – helping when they join in with family meal times.

Babies need many chances to try new foods and seeing others eat these foods helps.

It’s good to remember the first year of feeding is more about learning to eat while baby’s main nutrition comes from breastfeeding or infant formula.

All babies are different. Your baby will move through the texture stages at a pace right for them.

Babies will also eat different amounts and this can change from day to day.

A food or meal that was a hit one day may not be touched the next.

While this can be very frustrating, it’s all a normal part of babies learning to eat.

Making your own baby food is good for you and your baby

  • Making baby food at home means you know what’s in it.
  • Making your own purees, mashes and family meals is more affordable.
  • Most of all, it can give your baby a chance to explore a range of foods, tastes and textures. All this may help your baby grow up to be a better eater.

Top five baby food ideas made from family meals

  • Casseroles and slow cooked meat dishes make great purees and, for older babies, soft meat finger foods.
  • Steamed vegetables like peas and carrots make good purees and mashes.
  • Roasted vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato and cauliflower make great finger foods and are also easy to mash.
  • Thicker soups like pea and ham, chicken and corn, or minestrone are easy to puree or larger pieces taken out to use as finger foods.
  • Bolognaise sauce makes an easy puree and is easy to freeze.

Talk to your child health nurse for more information and visit Healthy Kids for more food ideas.