When I was a first-time parent the idea of giving my baby real food, was terrifying. I must admit I was not a confident mom all those years ago.
I found everything terrifying from the first time he slept through the night – I must have checked he was breathing at least a hundred times, putting small objects in his mouth, his first steps – all of the trip hazards and hard edges.
With my poor third baby, she is very much just left to her own devices. Up on the back of the sofa, swinging from tree branches in the park, getting up to all sorts of mischief that I would not have been able to cope with baby number one.
She is a genius though, and I’m not biased at all.
We decided before baby number one was born that we wanted to practice baby-led weaning. The smell of pureed food alone is enough to leave me gagging for fresh air.
I took the position that if it looks like something I wouldn’t want to eat, why would I feed it to my baby? After all, the first bite is with the eye as they say.
I also think that the idea or making a delicious pasta bake or a whole roast chicken dinner and then blitzing in the food processor is just plain wrong.
Having said that, each to their own – if puree is your thing, no judgment here, it’s just not my thing.
Whether you are going straight in with either purees or solid food or a mix of purees and finger foods, it is all a messy business. We came up with all sorts of methods in an attempt to minimize the mess, each with limited success.
But it was all worth it. My kids all eat well and have been feeding themselves using cutlery from the get go.
I attribute baby led weening and cannot recommend it enough. Anyway… I digress.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below may be affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
When can I offer my baby semi-solid foods?
It is recommended that you start weening at between the ages of seven and nine months. Essentially, they need to be able to sit up in a highchair without their little head bobbing around.
Once they look comfortable up there, you can be confident that it’s time to start weening.
If you’re using purees this is the time to start. Don’t expect them to gulp in down and rum their precious little belly with glee.
They may be apprehensive or downright object to it. Remember, they are still getting the majority of their nourishment from their milk so there is no rush to get them on three square meals and however many portions of fruit and vegetables is this weeks’ recommendation.
One of the first semi-solid foods you try with your baby will most likely be puffs. They come in all different brands, shapes, sizes and flavors.
The common nature is that they dissolve easily in their mouth and so reduce the chances of choking. It’s more of a flavor experience than nourishment, although they are often fortified.
My babies loved the carrot and tomato flavors. They are a super convenient snack to keep in your purse and as well as being super tasty and a low choke risk, they are also great at encouraging your baby’s pincer grip.
Are puffs good for babies?
The nutritional value of puffs will vary from brand to brand. Essentially, they are made of mostly air so there is likely to be little nutritional value to them.
To be honest, giving them puffs between 7 – 9 months is more about the experience of the shapes, the texture and trying to feed themselves. They can get their nutrition elsewhere.
Puffs are more about being tactile and getting used to chewing and swallowing. It’s good practice for when the come to trying out more substantial foods.
What brands should I look out for?
Here are a few brands I’ve tried and tested and been recommended by others:
Amara yogurt smoothie melts – a relatively new to market option, these puffs are made with organic fruits and vegetables, and coconut milk.
Mission mightyme peanut puffs – as the name suggests (al be it not subtly) these peanut puffs have a prominent peanut flavor. Also, as the name suggests, you need to be aware of potential peanut allergies.
It’s good to start introducing potential allergens early on in your baby’s diet, especially if you yourself have intolerances. These are a great way to start.
Puffworks baby puffs – they are a good size to help your baby to pick them up easily enough while they are working on their pincer grip.
Sprout organic plant puffs – as opposed to rice-based puffs these have a base of sorghum, fruit juice, and powdered produce.
Serenity kids grain-free puffs – these puffs come in both sweet and savory flavors for a nice variety. They are made with healthy fats and produce.
When can my baby eat more solid foods?
Graduating from semi-solids to solids has no strict time scale. We did a mix from around 9 months so they could experience the alternative textures.
They wont bite a carrot, unless their gums are hurting in which case, they will give it a darn good try, but they can experience the flavor and texture.
The main thing that I’ve heard anecdotally about graduating onto real food is the fear of choking.
It can be scary the first time your baby starts to look like they are choking. Gagging is perfectly normal.
They’ve fumbled with a half of a grape, managed to get in their mouth, but how is this going to go down? There’s a moment of silence and their eyes either disappear completely into their scrunched up little face, or pop out of their tiny little head, and they start to splutter.
Have a little cooled boiled water to hand in case they need a little extra fluid to help them get it down.
Now this sounds easy for me to say, but whatever you do, don’t jump up in a panic and start patting them on the back immediately. Your response is important in reassuring your baby that a little gagging while they’re learning to eat is fine and nothing to be worrying about.
Just like the old advice about not overreacting when they fall over – the more you react the more they think they need to react. Be attentive but not alarming!
So, take a deep breath and wait until they sort it out themselves. Of course, if they are quiet for a little longer and can’t dislodge the food, then you need to get involved.
Breath. Stay calm.
You won’t remember any of your baby CPR course if you’re flustered. It’s truly amazing what us mamas can do in an emergency.
When my second baby was around ten months old, I was sat with some mom friends having a coffee. He was eating an apple.
He loved munching and sucking on a whole apple. Very much Mr independent.
He got off a little more than he could chew and started to choke. I noticed, laid him across my lap and proceeded to give him a series of 5 sharp blows between his shoulder blades with the heel of my hand, while continuing on with my conversation.
He coughed it up sharpish, I sat him back on my lap and he got back to eating. He was fine, not stressed at all, just started munching away at his apple again.
It was a reflex action and to be entirely honest it really didn’t even phase me until later in the day when I kind of realized what had happened and the potential severity of the incident hit me. You know they say that a mother could lift a car off of their baby if circumstances dictated that to be a necessary course of action?
Well, I guess that was the same. I was calm. The baby was calm. No food issues, just business as usual.
Before embarking on your weening journey, I whole heartily recommend that you read up and watch a few tutorials on baby first aid, so it is lingering in the recesses of your mind in case you ever need it. if you can take a class and can afford to do so, do it. the peace of mind alone is worth the cost.
You probably will not ever need it, but it is better to be prepared and may help you feel more confident about giving your baby solid food.
There are no hard and fast rules about what to feed your baby. It’s a new experience for them and so giving them fun colors and new textures to try out is more interesting and helps them to engage.
Seeing you eat with them will also help them to learn about chewing and swallowing as they mimic you. It’s an exciting journey to embark upon together and a great opportunity for you to really think about taste and texture in the foods that you eat and imagine trying them for the first time as a baby.
Enjoy the journey. Prepare yourself for inevitable gagging and choking. You’ve got this mama.