Most babies do not need solids until they are six months old, though some can start at five months. The first solids usually consist of a powdered cereal product with formula, water or breast milk added until it is of a creamy consistency. The first few weeks it should be of a thin consistency and then gradually made thicker once baby is happy to accept it.
The cereal chosen can be rice, barley or oats or whatever is available. While the first few months of solids will mostly be specially made for babies, the idea is to get baby to quickly accept the same food as the rest of the family eats. Of course, it will need to be mashed finely at first, but baby may be offered food with soft, small lumps in it before too long.
Baby’s first food will need to be thoroughly mashed to avoid lumps that can cause choking. This can be done more easily by forcing mashed food through a sieve with the back of a spoon. A variety of fruit as well as vegetables can be cooked and sieved in this way. But some fruit can be given raw. Soft fruit like bananas, mangos, and even avocado can be mashed to a fine consistency while raw.
Prepared baby food can be bought in cans and jars, but the taste of this is not really similar to home-prepared food, so allowing baby to get used to it will make it more difficult for him to accept ordinary food later on. It doesn’t take all that much time to push a little bit of potato and a few peas through a sieve just after you strain them for the family’s dinner. Adding a little milk or water will help the process and make them mushy enough for your infant to assimilate.
When baby first starts to take solid food, you can expect him to spit it out. This is not necessarily because he does not like the taste, but because he is experimenting with the texture and actually learning how to swallow something that does not readily slide down in the same way as liquid.
Simply scoop the dribbled food off his chin and pop it back in his mouth; he’ll soon get the hang of swallowing it. A bib and small towel can be used to take care of any mess. Feeding time is sure to be messy at first, so don’t worry too much about spills. If you get upset, baby will begin to associate feeding with negative emotions and this will impact on his acceptance of solids.
Once baby gets used to a few little lumps in his food you can start adding finely cut or minced meat, chicken and fish to his diet. Before this, the gravy from stews mashed into his vegetables, or the liquid from soup cooked with meat will suffice. As a general guide, eight to eleven months will be a good age to add finger foods and a little meat to the diet. But all babies are different and some can take solids more quickly and readily than others.