Starting Solids for baby – Am I doing it right?

Starting solids is an exciting time for Mum and Baby! It is not something to worry too much about, as “food under one is just for fun”. As long as baby is growing and developing, your milk is meeting their nutritional needs. Starting solids is introducing your baby to smell, texture, taste and they are learning about biting, chewing and swallowing. Also about trajectory and dropping things from their high chair!

There is no right or wrong way to start solids, no one size fits all approach. You know more than you think you do as A Mother, follow your instincts and do what you are comfortable with. There are only guidelines and recommendations.

I took a wonderful discussion with a group of Mummas and their gorgeous babies today! Every time I take a talk we are put on a different tangent to the last talk, this is a typical representation of all things in parenting, and brings me back to the idea that there is not a one size fits all approach. You must do what is right for you.

Here is a summarised form of our chat:

 1. There is no right or wrong way to start solids. Do what feels comfortable for you and make decisions with the information you have on hand.

2. The farex debate

Some were asking why some people think it’s bad. For those who are interested, there is research to suggest the following:

In a nutshell, inorganic arsenic levels are up to 5x higher in rice cereals than in things such as oats. Inorganic arsenic is found in pesticides and is linked to cancer. If keen on farex, try to stick to one serving a day and use other meal times to explore a variety of tastes, textures, smells such as puree vegetables or fruit. Grating in liver or adding spinach is a great way to naturally add in iron.

Farex is a highly processed food. White rice ground to a pulp. There is research to suggest (look up Dr. Greene) that giving baby ground up white rice is metabolically the same as giving baby sugar. It does increase babies insulin levels.

There are minerals and vitamins sprinkled in however baby can get them in other forms, with a varied real food diet. Plants and meat will naturally provide what farex is artifically fortified with.

3. The grains debate.

There is research to suggest that babies guts do not have the enzyme to digest grains until age one. 

Quinoa, however, is easy to digest and a very low allergen. Quinoa has all 9 amino acids (complete protein) and is a good source of fiber.

Rice – research suggests babies do not have the enzyme to digest rice (found in saliva) which is why some mums chew the rice first before feeding it to baby.

4. Baby led weaning.

Baby led weaning is skipping the purees and giving baby appropriately sized peices of food to eat (or baby feeds themselves). Ideas are roast veges, sliced veges and fruit, asparagus, avocado slices, chicken breast slices or tenderloins, banana slices, cucumber slices – whatever you are having for your meal, sliced into a chip shape, where the baby can pick it up and eat it themselves.

This teaches baby to bite, chew and swallow as opposed to purees which teach baby to swallow then months later they learn to bite and chew first.

Baby led weaning is just a term used for letting baby feed themselves. If baby grabs something off your plate, well that’s baby led weaning too.

5. Nz ministry recommends waiting until 7 or 8 months before introducing dairy.

No honey allowed until after age one due to infant botulism.

Don’t add salt or sugar to baby’s food.

6. If a baby is meeting milestones and developing normally, there is no need to be concerned._ _“Food under one is just for fun”. Breastmillk or formula will meet your babies’ needs until the age of one._ _Babies often go through phases of eating a lot and then a few days of not wanting food. Sometimes you wonder why your baby isn’t eating their normal portion of food only to realize a day later that they are sick or teething. Generally, you can use babies queues to judge how much to give.

Remember baby has a good gag reflex which baby uses to push food around their mouth. They are not choking when they are using their gag reflex.

7. Worried about allergies?

This can be a scary thought. Thankfully, most babies are fine with all food groups. A good approach is to introduce common allergy foods such as wheat, gluten, dairy, soya, nuts, eggs, fish and night shades with a 4 – 7 day wait in between. This makes it much easier to identify possible allergies.
Generally, allergies have a reaction of within two hours and intolerances can show days later.
If baby has a serious reaction, call 111 for an ambulance. Look for swelling lips, mouth, tongue, face and/or throat, dizziness, difficulty breathing and collapsing.


_Plunket recommends waiting until 7 -8 months for finger foods, you do what you are comfortable with. _

_Make sure you are with baby while eating. _

_If baby chokes (this goes for baby choking on anything, not just food):_

FOR INFANTS (Under 1 year)

If your baby is choking but can still breathe or cry, let him cough the object out himself. If he is unable to breathe, cry or cough you need to take the following action:

1. Lay him facedown on your forearm, being careful to support his head and jaw in your hand. Using the heel of your free hand, give him five quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades.

2. If the object does not come out, turn him face up on your arm or lap. Put your middle and index fingers at the centre of his breastbone, about one finger breadth below his nipples. Give fine quick chest thrusts. Alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is dislodged.

3. If his is unresponsive, start CPR and have someone call 111. Support his head with your hand, and turn him on his back. Put your middle and index fingers at the centre of his chest, about one finger breadth below the nipples. Give five quick chest compressions, pressing 1/2 to 1 inch at a rate of at least 100 per minute. After every five compression, tilt back his chin slightly and give one rescue breath by putting your mouth over his mouth and nose and breathing out. If you see the object, remove it – otherwise, don’t reach into his mouth.

8. Supplements

Personally, no I do not recommend vitamin supplements for babies. Loads of vitamins for children are awful, they are packed full of sugar, read the packet – 4g in every 100g is one teaspoon. _
_If you are worried that baby is not getting enough say, iron, then the NZ Ministry has a great site outlining their guidelines for how much of each vital nutrient a baby should be getting. Take the guessing game out of it, educate yourself on how much a baby really should have, then find a food baby will eat which has the macro or micro nutrient in it. Iron could be oats for breakfast, spinach for lunch, an orange for a snack and mince with avocado for dinner. _ 
_If a baby is failing to thrive then you would go to the GP and be referred to the necessary professional. The reason for failing to thrive could be a manner of things such as perhaps a physical problem or an allergy, rather than baby is just fussy. _
9. [1] and [2] for nutrition guidelines



Meat iron is haem, not meat iron is non haem. Iron is best absorbed from meat.

Eating foods high in vitamin c will help baby absorb iron

Why the fuss about iron? The same as your own iron stores deplete when you are pregnant and baby is rapidly growing, babies need iron as they are still rapidly growing. If you needed iron while pregnant, you’ll know that without it you are left exhausted. Iron is also essential for brain development, growth and development.

What do you eat to get enough iron? Bf mums need it too! At 9mg/day (nz ministry).

_Haem iron_

Beef fillet Steak 173g is 5.8mg

Half cup mussels 7.5mg

Two lamb steaks (116g) 4.0mg

Lamb liver 4.0mg

90g can salmon 2.1mg

Chicken breast (107g) 2.0mg

Pork loin chop (74g) 1.2mg

Tarakihi fillet 0.8mg

_Non haem iron_

Tofu 100g 5.4mg

Porridge 1cup 1.3mg

Cooked red kidney beans half cup 2.0mg

Lentils half cup 1.2mg

Chickpeas 1.6mg

Brocolli 1 cup 0.9mg

Baked beans 1.6mg

Dates (10) 1.3mg

Spinach one cup 2.5mg

Egg 0.9mg

Multigrain bread 0.7mg

Nz ministry soya beans one cup 8.8mg

Quinoa one cup 2.8mg

Kale one cup 1.2mg

Vitamin c foods kiwi fruit, citrus fruits,

Bf woman need extra calcium, diary and other sources.
Nz ministry 1000mg / day rdi
Milk one cup 310mg/day
Prawns 100g 190mg
Salmon small tin 70mg
Tofu 200g 270mg
Spinach 140mg
Cottage cheese 1 tablespoon 9mg
Edam cheese 2cm cube 75mg
Yogurt potter 195mg
Calcium fortified soya drink 286mg
Tofu 100g 105mg
Whole grain bread 33mg
Sardine 66mg
10 almonds 30mg
10 Brazil nuts 68mg
Sesame seeds one tablespoon 88mg
Brocolli cup 59mg

Vitamin D will help calcium absorb, smoking and excess caffeine will inhibit calcium absorption

Iodine 270mg/day
Bf mums needs more iodine
Because baby is growing rapidly
Pre existing thyroid condition should seek doc advise before taking supplement.
Foods – seaweed, seafood and fish. Now that you can eat sushi again!
Dairy and egg products.
Bread is fortified with iodine.
Recommended daily supplement containing 150mg iodine.


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