Your baby’s first taste of real food is a big milestone for both of you. But while weaning is an exciting time, it can also be messy, confusing and downright frustrating as you both adapt to the new routine of starting solids. So before you begin, ask yourself these six questions to make sure you’re ready for the adventure ahead.
When will you start?
To give yourselves the best chance of success, pick a day and a time when you and your baby will be in a good frame of mind. Avoid the day when you’ll be rushing from baby group to friends to home. Most health visitors advise introducing solids at lunchtime first; your baby should be sufficiently hungry and not too tired, and you’ll be able to concentrate on her first meal once the morning rush is over.
Where will you feed her?
Your baby may not be a sturdy sitter yet, so at first, you might want to feed her in a bouncy chair or on your lap. If you’d rather she got used to a highchair straight away, choose one that’s suitable for her stage of development: a comfy, padded chair with a recline function and a big tray may suit her best at this point. Oh, and if you value your soft furnishings, do it in the kitchen or dining room, away from your sofas and carpets!
What will you feed her?
When you’re planning your baby’s first meal, plain and simple is the way to go – after all, learning to eat is a big deal when so far, you’ve only ever had milk.
Most mums start either with baby rice or a basic vegetable puree, such as carrot, thinned down with breastmilk or formula. If you’re planning to use breastmilk, make sure you’ve expressed some in readiness for the big event.
Is he ready?
She may be showing all the signs of readiness, but if D day comes and your baby seems overtired, unwell or generally out of sorts, be prepared to postpone her first taste of solids until another day. An unwilling baby makes for a stressful first mealtime.
What if she loves it?
Some babies take well to weaning, and are ready for more flavours and bigger quantities within a matter of days. It pays to be prepared in case your little one is a fast mover, so before you begin, stock up on the equipment you’ll need for the next stage, such as a hand blender and lidded plastic pots.
Most fruit and vegetable purees can be stored for a long time in the freezer, so consider preparing a few batches of food in advance, so you’ve got meals on hand for the first few weeks.
What if she hates it?
This is where you need to plaster on that cheerful grin and expand your repertoire of songs, silly faces and comedy voices! Babies pick up on your emotions, so try not to let her see that you’re feeling stressed. Eating from a spoon is a big new skill for her, and one that may not come easily, so don’t be downhearted if she spits everything out, cries or clamps her mouth shut.
Remember, she’s still getting the bulk of her nutrition from milk, and these first tastes are just about familiarising her with food, rather than filling her up. If you can stay calm and positive, then with perseverance, you can make mealtimes a pleasurable experience – for both of you.