I often get lots of anxious questions from parents and carers about baby’s first reactions to their very first solid foods!
In all honesty, the first month of weaning is always a bit of an unknown for parents! How to start? What to introduce first? What happens next? What if baby doesn’t like it?
This blog is about setting some realistic expectations for parents during that first month of weaning. I’m doing it alongside my good friend Min from @kidfriendly.meals who is talking about comparisons during this first month too.
The perfect journey?
It’s so easy to want your weaning journey to go perfectly, to see lots of images of babies beautifully gobbling up sticks of broccoli as their first tastes and wonder “what am I doing so wrong?” or “it’s not like that for me?” but many babies don’t take to weaning right away, it can take a few weeks and even months before they are happy to start taking solid foods. That’s OK.
The first month of solid food are about a few things:
- Establishing a new routine that includes food
- Introducing your little one to the concept of solid foods
- Allowing your little one to explore and play with food to get them familiar with it
- Exploring first tastes of new foods
It is NOT about getting lots of calories and nutrients into your baby’s diet right away.
Nutrients are important
I’m not saying that nutrients after 6 months aren’t important, they are. But what’s more important is helping your baby to enjoy the process of weaning, to gradually familiarise them with what meals and foods are and to model and show them HOW to do this thing called ‘eating’.
So if you find that your baby doesn’t put food in their mouth, doesn’t open their mouth for solids, will only eat food off of your finger or cries when you put them in the highchair, it’s time to take a step back, take the pressure off and follow some of these tips for encouraging happier, baby led mealtimes.
Tips for the first month of weaning if baby isn’t taking to foods right away:
- Offer their first meal at a time of day when you know your baby is most calm
- Make sure baby isn’t too full and hasn’t just had a large milk feed
- At the same time, ensure baby isn’t too hungry and isn’t desperate for a milk feed (roughly an hour after a milk feed can be a good time)
- Make it enjoyable, fun and light – it might sound unrealistic, but trying to kick off with a game, put some calming music on, starting with a little song – whatever helps to calm your baby down – that’s a good way to start your meal
- Sit with baby at mealtimes so that they have you with them – this can make them feel more comfortable when trying this new experience – lots of smiles and encouragement go a long way too
- Eat with baby and show them how to use the spoon or how to attempt finger foods, they honestly will learn all about chewing and hand eye coordination from watching you modelling the behaviour to them. If they never see you eat, you can’t expect them to know what to do with a head of broccoli!
- Try not to get anxious or distressed if you feel that baby isn’t enjoying the process, they will pick up on your emotions so fight your urges and try to remain calm. Take a back seat & focus on your own food.
- Keep to a routine. Once you offer baby solids at a certain time that works (distraction free, calm, without rush) try to stick to that time for next few days too, so baby can get used to a routine and when to expect solids vs milk.
- Let baby play with the food on offer. It’s all part of their exposure – seeing it, seeing you eating it, touching it, licking it and maybe, eventually, tasting it. Let baby go at their own pace, just offer gentle encouragement to let them know this is safe and fun.
- Don’t move through the meals too quickly, focus on the process of eating and getting familiar with one meal first, esp if your little one is slower to take to the process of eating.
If you find that your little one isn’t actually getting any food in, that’s OK. Sit with them, let them explore and encourage plenty of ‘playing’ with the food. Try to take the pressure off of yourself and them. They don’t need to be gobbling up their meals. Instead, sit back and feed yourself – it can make all the difference in the world.
When baby does get some food in their mouth subtly encourage this with smiles, claps and plenty of reassurance.
If baby makes disgusted faces – that’s perfectly normal. This is a brand new taste and some totally different textures to what they’ve ever had before. They are allowed to be surprised at what’s going into their mouths, especially if it’s something savoury or bitter (breastmilk & formula milk are fairly sweet). Just remember, it doesn’t mean they don’t like food!
Gagging vs Choking!
If you’re panicked about choking (which is very rare by the way), the anxiety can really make babies nervous at trying finger foods. Try out a first aid course before you start which can help you know how to cope. Alternatively, you can check out my posts on choking here and also my blog on First Finger Foods to offer.
I really hope you found this helpful. I want parents to enjoy the weaning process and this starts from the very beginning. Babies have to learn to eat, it doesn’t always come naturally. Additionally, some babies just have lower appetites than other babies – just as we do as adults, so try not to compare and check out Min’s blog on this topic too!