Our journey with solids so far

By Hand On The Hip - 11/20/2020

Hello everyone!

Since I got a ton of requests and queries on how to start solids for babies, I decided it would be much easier and quicker if I got all of the info out in a blog post. Bear with me because this one's gonna be a quick one and I may end up with a lot of typos/grammar mistakes. So first and foremost, I'd like to put it out there that I am not a nutritionist or a doctor or a dietician and everything that I am going to talk about it solely based on my research and recommendations from my baby's doctor. I would ask you to first speak to your bub's paediatrician before you plan to put your little one on solids. At any given point in time if you notice that your baby is not doing so well with solids, stop right away. Also, no judgements please! :) A parent knows best what works for her baby and her family and we all need to respect that.

As you'd know from my IG posts and blog posts, my son had reflux the initial few months and was on medication for the same. The doctor had prescribed Omeprazole and as a part of the wean-off process, we had to start solids at 4 months. The WHO recommendation is to start solids when the baby is 6 months of age, however, it is perfectly okay to start early if there's an underlying health condition (like reflux) or if the milk supply isn't adequate or even otherwise. But always remember that breastmilk is still the primary source of nutrition, especially if you plan to start solids early. I will give you a breakdown of how we started, what we needed to start and where we are right now.

Three signs to look out for to know he's ready for solids -

1) He is watching you when you eat

2) He is drooling a lot

3) He starts to wake up more frequently at night 

Things you need before starting -

- A rocker/pram/baby seat that's slightly inclined because the baby may not be able to sit in a high chair just yet

- LOADS and LOADS of bibs!

- A steamer and a blender to make the food in

- A silicone spoon because bubbas love chewing on them spoons

- Any bowl that you find around the house that's easy to use and heat

- Ice trays and zip lock bags if you plan to freeze foods

- A sippy cup to drink water after

- A fruit feeder, popsicle maker (optional)

- A hungry bubby! :D

Our month-on-month journey - 

Month 1

We kept the first month very simple. We started with vegetable and fruit purees and tried some combinations too. The most important thing to remember is to try out one type of food for about 3 days to see if there is any reaction and then try a different one for another few days and so on. Another suggestion given by the doctor was that we don't use any salt, sugar or condiments till the baby is one year of age. Each meal was followed by a feed so that bub is able to digest the food.

Week 1

The first food that our LO had was carrot puree and we offered him about 2 tbsp. He ate it very easily and enjoyed eating it too. We then moved on to sweet potato, butternut squash, pear, apple, broccoli, beans, zucchini, banana, avocado, spinach etc. For the first one week, we offered him solids at around 10:00 am and he had just one meal a day. The consistency of the puree in the initial days should be very smooth and liquid-like.

Week 2

We slowly moved on two meals, where the second meal was at around 5:00 pm (dinner) and we started making puree combinations. 

Week 3

We had graduated to 3 meals where we offered him something during lunch time. While some believe that 3 meals are way too much for a 4 month old, I would recommend checking in with your healthcare professional and doing what suits your baby best. After 3 weeks of experimenting with different textures, we offered him 30-60 ml water in a sippy cup.

Month 2

During the second month, we introduced some chicken and he did not really enjoy it much. We also introduced some protein-rich food like homemade lentils and rice cereal which is his absolute favorite. 

Month 3

During the third month, we started allergens like eggs, peanuts and yoghurt and since he was six months of age, we increased the quantity to about 4 tbsp per meal. I also started mixing some brown rice with his dinner so that he gets some carbs for dinner. We started using store-bought cereal for breakfast as well and the meal timings were 8:00 am, 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. The consistency of his meals are now sort of more chunky now so that he learns to chew his meals and not just swallow.

Now making these meals is a real pain the neck, especially if you don't have any help. It takes up A LOT of my time, but sometimes it's a lot of fun to play with different kinds of food. With a little bit of planning, you can make this process a lot easier. And also, do note that it's absolutely safe to give your baby thawed frozen food. It's just as healthy and nutritious as freshly made food would be as long as you don't reheat it multiple times.

How I prepare the meals -

Vegetable and fruit purees - I basically use the steamer option in my rice cooker and steam some veggies and use a stick blender to mash the veggies. I sometimes add cooked rice to the mix as well.

Lentil and rice cereal - For this, I pressure-cook a bunch of lentils like toor dal, channa dal, mung dal, mung beans and some rice and then I use my stick blender to mash it. 

How I store the meals -

I generally freeze the meals after refrigerating it for about 2-3 days or sometimes, right away and store them in zip lock bags.

How I thaw and reheat the meals -

I use the "heating frozen meals" option in the microwave to thaw the meal or use my same pressure cooker with the "reheat" option.

How I carry the meals -

If we are visiting people or are going out to the park, then I carry the meal in an air-tight container, preferably made fresh so that it can be consumed straight away.

Some easy foods to keep with you for emergencies -

- Banana, Avocado - You can always mash one and offer to bub when you're out and about!

- Store-bought cereal - This literally takes 2 seconds to make and has all the nutrients your bub would need!

- Fruits in a fruit feeder - Although this may not count as a complete meal, you can introduce fruits like strawberries and mandarins using a fruit feeder and bubs love to chew on these.

Fun foods items to offer - 

- Fruits in a fruit feeder - As mentioned above, this is a great way to introduce bubs to certain fruits and mine absolutely loves it! This is also very useful if your baby is teething.

- Homemade popsicles - Another great idea to help bub while teething is to offer a homemade fruit or yogurt and berry popsicle. 

- Teething rusks - These are also a great substitute for teethers and bubs love chewing on these hard rusks.

Some things to keep in mind -

- Ensure that your baby is hungry enough to have solids. If he's just had a feed, he definitely won't be accepting any solids. Try to space out meals/feeds by 2-3 hours so that the baby actually has an appetite to eat.

- Water after meals or some breastmilk is VERY IMPORTANT for digestion of food. Otherwise the baby might end up having constipation or tummy ache.

- If you notice your baby is choking, stop immediately and give a break.

- If your baby starts to look away, he's either too full or not ready for solids. Don't force him to eat and try again another time.

- Also, ensure that everybody at home feeds the bub so that he gets used to multiple feeders.

With that, I am going to sign off and wish you guys good luck. Do share your stories with me!


Hand On The Hip

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