Most babies get started on solids without too many problems. It is a baby’s nature to chew on everything in his hands – and many things that are not, such as the top rail of the cot. This means that they simply put the food that is in their hands into their mouths and chew on it. When it tastes good they find that eating food is a pleasant experience.
Problems might arise though with accepting new tastes. Sometimes mothers tend to give their baby the same few things over and over because they are easy to prepare and mash. Then when a new food is offered, baby really notices the different taste. He may screw up his face and spit it out. This doesn’t mean that the food should not be offered again. It doesn’t even always mean that he doesn’t like it and will never eat it.
It just means that he has noticed that it tastes different. New food should be offered regularly until baby gets so used to it that he will accept it with no trouble, even if this takes up to 10 or 15 times. If the food does have a stronger taste than baby is used to, it can be mixed with other food that he likes to get him used to it. Potato is a good medium for this as it has a rather bland taste.
Since children are hungrier at the beginning of a meal, that is the time to introduce a new food. You can often slip it in by placing it next to a food that is well-liked. The older toddler may be more apt to try new foods if he or she has participated in buying them from the supermarket.
Add a new food only every few days so that you will be able to see at once if baby happens to be allergic to it. A rash, vomiting or diarrhoea may result from some foods, but these can also be symptoms of teething or an illness, so don’t just assume baby is allergic to the last new food he ate if he does develop such symptoms. Allergic symptoms usually eventuate within four hours of eating.
Letting baby try to feed himself is messy, but a necessary part of the learning process. If mother insists on feeding all the time, the baby can become frustrated and refuse to eat or worse still, refuse to eat unless someone feeds him. Just as baby will only learn to walk by falling and getting up again, he will only learn to feed himself by dropping food and by missing his mouth frequently. But he will learn eventually and it will save a great deal of time when he does.
Once baby is happy to eat solids, it is all right to serve food that is mildly spicy, if that is what the family eats. The idea is to get baby used to eating the kind of food that is normal in your household – as well as making sure he gets the correct nutrition, of course.