All About Food When Starting Solids

An introduction to the importance of different types of foods for your pēpi, plus a list of what to avoid.

 

Starting solids is a completely new experience for your baby, so it’s best to introduce foods gradually to them, giving them one at a time. It is recommended to offer the same food for 2-4 days to ensure your baby doesn’t have an allergy to that food before introducing something new. For more information on food allergies, see Starting Solids: Food Allergens.

In your baby’s first year, it’s important to give them a variety of foods in all colours, flavours, and textures, not only for the nutritional benefit but so they learn to enjoy eating a range of foods. Research shows that you may need to offer your baby a new food up to 15 times before it is accepted.

Breast milk should be your baby’s main source of nutrition until they are one year of age, but once they start solids, you can offer them some sips of water during each mealtime.

HOMEMADE VS STORE-BOUGHT

There are many incredible benefits to giving your baby homemade food, the main one being that you can ensure it is highly nutritious as you know exactly what’s in it. Plus, making your baby’s food from scratch can be more cost-effective if you’re using seasonal produce and whole foods, and cooking in bulk. However, there is a lot to be said for the convenience of store-bought food when you’re a busy (and often sleep-deprived) parent! Before buying baby food, check the ingredients list and opt for the more nutritious products containing vegetables, meat and legumes. Choose foods that are low in sodium and don’t have added sugar.

 

FOODS TO AVOID
  • Drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and tea (including herbal tea)
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary drinks such as juice, cordials and soft drinks
  • Cows’ milk (before 12 months of age)
  • Honey (before 12 months of age)
  • Foods with added sugar, salt or fat
  • Salty meat such as corned beef, povi/pulu masima (salted brisket), and tinned fish

For babies, the three most important foods for them to consume are vegetables, iron-rich foods, and foods that are high in healthy fats.