The ‘What’ and ‘How’ of Introducing Solids

Depending on your reasons when you start baby on solids, you may want your approach at the beginning to be slightly different. Let me explain:

If your goal at the moment is just to let baby get used to little ‘tastes’ of food, without affecting the number of breastfeeding sessions or your baby’s overall daily intake of breast milk (and/or formula) , then start off slowly, offering a small amount of solids once or twice a day initially. Offer the solids about ½ – 1 hour after a breastfeeding session, but before nap time. This will give baby a chance to digest some of the breast milk and so may be more interested in trying the food offered. The solids will also help to act as a little ‘top up’ which might help baby sleep better during the nap.

If your goal is to reduce a baby’s daily intake of breast milk (and/or formula), for example, after the baby turns 6 months of age, offer the solids first when it is time for one of the baby’s usual breastfeed sessions. Then top up with a breastfeed about half an hour before the baby’s nap. At the beginning, the intake of solids will not be enough to make any difference, but as the volume of food eaten increases, the duration of the subsequent breastfeed will gradually lessen. Eventually, baby will drink less (or not at all) since he or she is already full from the previous solid meal. This also has the benefit of pushing a breastfeeding session till later in the day, allowing you to space out the breastfeeds more throughout the day, and baby tends to be able to sleep better as a result too.

You can start off with baby rice, baby oatmeal cereal, or simply choose from the wide variety of pureed vegetables and fruits available. Examples are butternut squash, sweet potato, banana, pear and apple. If you want to offer more nutrient dense solids, some good nutrient rich and more calorie dense options are avocado (source of good fats), pureed meats (a good source of iron, protein and zinc) and legumes like lentils. In all cases, mixing a pureed food with a bit of expressed breast milk or formula will give your baby more nutrition than just mixing with water. If your baby is after 6 months of age, then you can also begin to use a bit of full fat cow’s milk to mix into the foods (but don’t use this as a drink until baby turns 1 year of age).


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