Updated: Apr 14
I’ll start off by saying there’s a lot of information out there about introducing solids and some is helpful, some isn’t so much. There are people out there who will try to persuade you that no matter what you shouldn’t give your baby solids until 6 months of age. On the other hand there are also people out there who will try to convince you that you should begin solids the day your pēpi reaches 4 months, I found this argument is particularly aimed at those with bigger babies. It is a very individual journey and I wanted to share a little of ours as I wasn’t convinced on either of the extremes.
This blog isn’t to convince you into following what we do, it is to give you the confidence and to reassure you to do what YOU want to do and what suits YOUR whānau.
There are recommendations out there for signs your baby is ready for kai, for clarity, they involve: sitting up assisted and having good head control; moving lips or opening mouth when food is presented; and still being hungry after a milk feed (breast or bottle). At 4 months my pēpi wasn‘t quite reaching all of them but many people suggested I should start because of his size and said things like “he’s a big boy he’ll need the extra nutrients”, even though he was still gaining weight well. We also had people firmly in the “breastmilk is all they need until 6 months” camp. In true Jaime style I didn’t listen to either, I followed the cues my son gave me.
Once my son was meeting all the recommendations I delayed following my intuition for about a week due to his age. I wish I had had the confidence to just believe I knew what was best straight away because as soon as we introduced solids he became his happy self again and he loved kai!
Exactly 3 days before my son was 5 months old he had his first tastes of kūmara, carrot and pumpkin mix. We used the Watties stage 1 pouch to start with in order to check the consistency for once we made our own kai at home. In hindsight this step wasn’t really needed but it made me feel more comfortable to begin.
Regardless of whether you cook your own food, buy it, or do a mix of both in your whare, know that all pēpi face the same changes in poop, choking hazards, and most of all: fun exploring new tastes and textures. Sorry to say but the poop changes are true, it will be smellier and nastier than ever before. Orange veg might look like it never even digested and if you’re using cloth nappies then you may consider just throwing the whole thing away. Persevere, apparently it gets better.
So far we have tried kūmara mix, kūmara alone, apple, banana, avocado, nectarine, and plum. Remember you can add breastmilk to thin out any lumpy bits in the early stages. We have tried mostly purées but also tried some baby-led weaning techniques with the soft parts of nectarine and plum. For those who don’t know, baby-led weaning is when you give your pēpi finger foods to play with/explore and eat. There are theories out there that they won’t eat what they can’t swallow but still be aware of choking hazards. I helped my son hold the piece of fruit so I could closely monitor if any chunks came off. Plunket also run infant CPR and choking courses if you’re concerned and want to be prepared. You don’t have to have plunket as your well child provider to attend and they are free. We did one at Tikanga Ririki through plunket which was awesome as we got to practice and become more confident just incase.
Starting solids can be an intimidating milestone. Trust your instincts and know what information is out there but don’t necessarily follow it all, pick and choose what is relevant to your whānau. You got this māmā!