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Introducing solid foods - a personal blog

Updated: May 26, 2023


When I had my daughter I was SO excited to offer solid food at 6 months. I felt so confident that she was going to love food, never eat chocolate and adore all things healthy. I felt so sure in my approach and that things were going to be smooth sailing.


How I was so wrong!


When should we give solids


The World Health Organisation and NHS recommend that solid foods should be given at 6 months (or as close to 6 months as possible). This is because babies can maintain their airway whilst eating, they are developmentally ready to feed themselves and their digestive systems are ready to absorb nutrients from food.


How I started


My daughter was 5.5 months when she first had solid food, she was showing all the signs of readiness and I was so eager and excited to start this new journey. She was offered lumpy vegetables for a month, starting with one vegetable a day to ensure she did not react to any foods (although it is important to note that some allergies do not surface until a baby has been exposed several times).


She really took to food, loved the tastes, smells and textures. I slowly started to introduce grains, white bread (Brown bread can fill up little tummies meaning that they are too full for the important foods). I continued to offer these foods in solitude to ensure that no reactions were apparent. I gave her many types of plant based proteins, other starchy foods such as rice and oats and then fruit. I decided to introduce fruit last because of its high sugar content and sweet nature. Funnily enough, she did not like fruit until around 11 months unless it was bitter and sour.


Sounds perfect right? Wrong.

My girl started teething around 7 months. Did I see the signs? No. She was completely refusing all solid foods and milk. I was flabbergasted, where was my wonderful food loving baby who ate all things given to her? This caused a huge amount of stress, my mum brain telling me " she must eat!" my health visitor head telling me " she is self regulating her hunger it won't last forever". The tooth, the loose stools and sleepless nights all came at once. The penny dropped, but maybe a bit too late.


What mistakes I made when she refused food


Don't panic, don't panic. I panicked. I googled, I resorted to mums net, I tried to find THE answer when in fact there wasn't an answer to be found. My baby was simply telling me she did not want to eat, and I should have followed her lead and reduced all stress at the table. Instead, I took to some spoon feeding "sneaking" in tastes into her mouth. Mortified, she cried protested and told me "no". I would " choo choo" train the spoon, ask her to try food, putting my finger covered in swede and carrot near her lips. All these things were detrimental into her not trusting me at the dinner table. As an adult, why would we accept someone force feeding us? Encouraging us to "take another bite" " eat this pickle you love pickles" when we really did NOT love pickles that day. Putting pressure on her to eat during these times has definitely impacted the baby she is today. All the things I researched that were negative for growth and impendence, which I knew could lead to food adversity and obesity, I did with my baby! BIG mistake. I then took to following her lead and rolled with the punches. I finally got the hint.


Hey Duggee


The only way we overcame her hatred for the high chair was TV time. Again, this was not the plan! She would eat a delightful meal full of nutrients with the help of Hey Doug. Again, not what is recommended, I know this can increase the risks of choking because they are not concentrating. We eventually weaned her off NEEDING the TV to eat, but at the time it was a life saver.


How my babe eats now


My daughter, on the whole, is an exceptional eater. As long as she is not unwell/teething/offered a custard cream she will pretty much eat whatever is put in front of her. She does, however, have a complete refusal for the spoon. She is completely baby led which I think is part of her overall temperament but also makes me wonder whether my over encouragement in those early years really did impact her trust in me feeding her. She does not like me asking her if she wants food when she is eating, I take a backwards seat when it comes to meal times. Often, she eats well with little attention, enjoys family eating and yes the occasional Peppa pig programme in the background to keep her in the high chair for more than 2 minutes has been utilised. There are times when she feels overwhelmed by big portions and I will take the plate away and offer small amounts on her tray. I always offer all her dinner, pudding included, on the same plate to discourage food becoming any reward and just a normal part of life. She can then make an informed choice on what she wants to eat, and although parents are probably reading this horrified about giving chocolate with spag bol, you'd be surprised that your baby is probably more likely to delve into the veg next to their sweet treat if offered at the same time.


I make sure that I never let the spoon or fork touch her lips without her doing it herself. She can then control her own intake and not feel pressured to try or eat any food. I completey take her lead, some days she barely eats anything but biscuits and the next day she will have a full 3 course a la carte vegetable deluxe meal.


Babies and toddlers are much like us, in that they feel starving some days and others they don't want to know. We have to have trust in their instincts, they listen to their bodies far better than we do and have a more inate understanding of their bodies requirements.


What about drinks


I am a big believer in " if they never have it they don't know what they are missing" and it certainly goes without saying that squash has no nutritonal value or any value at all. Baby drinks and juice sadden me, as they decay the teeth and are the leading cause for tooth decay in the UK (PREACH OVER) .


I have only ever offered water through a straw cup, she can drink from an open cup but I am very lazy and hate the mess. I have purchased a doidy cup and I really should use this more!


Finally

The wonderful journey of introducing solid foods was not a simple one. I really thought I had this "stage" in the bag. However, what I do know is that I have learnt SO much more about introducing solid foods and feel more confident than ever in giving parents support and advice. I enjoy unravelling the reasons why children are refusing foods, why they are fussy and empathise with parents that the journey of giving foods is not a simple process.


Moving forward


If you want to find out more about my tips follow my insta page mamas_and_cubs and watch this space for online course content.

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