How much food should my baby eat? Starting solids is one of the most exciting times in your baby’s first year. It’s a time when you get to explore your baby’s tastes and introduce them to healthy eating habits. But for some mums, it can also be an anxious time as they are bombarded with conflicting advice about when and what they should feed their baby. So how exactly do you know if your baby is ready for solid food and how much should you feed them?
When is the right time to introduce solids?
According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) in order to achieve optimal health results, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. After that, babies should be offered nutritious complementary foods and continue to be breastfed until they are at least two years old. If you decide to wean off breastfeeding, they can have cows milk from 12 months of age.
Some health professionals believe that you should offer your baby solid food between 4-6 months. However, the latest research indicates that most babies are not developmentally and physiologically ready for solids until around 6 months. The best way to know whether it’s time to offer your baby solids is to follow their cues.
Some of the signs to watch out for include:
- Good head and neck control
- They can sit upright when supported
- Shows an interest in food
- Reaches out for your food
- Opens their mouth when food comes their way
- Gets excited when they see you getting their food ready
- Leans towards you while they are sitting in their highchair
How do I introduce solid food?
It’s a good idea to offer your baby solids when you and your baby are both relaxed. Your baby is also more likely to try solid food after a feed of breastmilk or formula. Don’t try to offer your baby solid food when they are hungry. They will only be interested in breastmilk or formula as they know this will fill them up.
When it comes to giving your baby solids, there are no hard and fast rules about the type of food you should offer first. At 6 months most babies will be able to manage a variety of textures. Some babies will be more receptive to soft foods from a spoon while others will prefer finger foods cooked vegetables, cut up fruit, and steak strips. Check out my blog on purees vs baby lead weaning (BLW) here.
During 6-12 months your baby’s iron and zinc stores will start to diminish so make sure you offer foods that are rich in iron such as beans, green vegetables, and red meat. Even though your baby won’t be able to chew a piece of meat, they will get iron and zinc by simply sucking the juices or you can puree it and add to other foods.
How much solid food should I feed my baby?
When the time finally arrives to start feeding your baby solids, don’t worry about how much or how little they eat. Some babies will only eat a tiny amount to begin with, while other babies will dive straight in.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s eating habits, weight gain or intolerances you can discuss this with your GP, Paediatrician, child health nurse or a dietician.
At this stage, your baby is simply exploring different tastes, textures, and smells. They are still getting their primary nutritional requirements from breastmilk or formula. Let your baby lead the way and you will end up with a happy, content and healthy baby. The short, simple answer when asked “how much food should my baby eat?” It’s really up to them, let them guide you.