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Feeding your baby

Feeding your Baby – Introducing Solids
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Some parents decide to introduce solids earlier than six months. It is then important never to introduce solid food before 4 months (17 weeks) of age. This may increase the risk of allergies and obesity later on in life.

There are some developmental signs that may suggest a baby may be ready for solid food. These include:-

  • Putting toys and other objects in the mouth
  • Watching others with interest when they are eating
  • Demanding milk feed more often
  • If your baby starts to fall off the growth curve around 4-6 months

Get advice from a trusted health care professional if you think your baby is no longer satisfied with their milk feeds.

What kind of foods should I use?
There are no strict rules on exactly what foods to give your baby to start with. Vegetables are thought to be a good first food as they expose your baby to a variety of different tastes early on. Some are sweet and some are bitter. It is important to persevere with tastes that your baby may at first refuse. Keep trying, they will soon get used to a new taste. It is also very important to progress quickly with texture. Use the below as a guide:

Stage 1 (4 – 6 months) Smooth pureed foods: Fruit, vegetables, rice, potatoes, meat, yoghurt, maize, rice, wheat or sorghum based cereal.

Stage 2 (6 – 9 months) Thicker consistency with some lumps: soft finger foods can also be introduced at this stage. Fruit, vegetables, rice, potatoes, yam, meat, fish, pulses, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, bread and cereals.

Stage 3 (9 – 12 months) Mashed, chopped, minced consistency and more finger foods.

Stage 4 (12 months and older) Mashed, chopped family foods and a variety
of finger foods.

It is advisable that you offer your baby home cooked foods as ultimately you want your baby to be eating family meals by 12 months. Babies who are solely fed commercially produced baby foods battle to make this transition to family meals.


What foods should be avoided?

Salt and sugar should not be added to a babies food for the first year of life. Foods that have lots of salt and salt and sugar such as bacon, biltong and processed foods
should be limited.

Bacterial risks: Foods like honey, raw eggs and under cooked meat/chicken/fish
should not be given to young children. Any food that is beyond its sell by date
must be avoided.

Choking: Whole nuts should not be given until the age of 3 because of the risk of choking. Whole grapes, large pieces of meat and popcorn can also be a choking risk.

Allergenic foods: It is no longer thought to be necessary to avoid foods like eggs wheat and fish. Avoiding them does not help to prevent allergies. Introduce them early.


Remember weaning should be fun. Enjoy this special time with your baby. Let your baby tell you when she is full or tired and never force feed.