In my previous two posts we covered when to start and what to start with (or more importantly what's not recommended to start with).
Today is the how...which seems a bit silly I know BUT there are two schools of thought. One is called conventional introduction which is around using purees and progressing through textures as they grow and waiting on finger foods. The second is called baby led weaning (BLW) which at the extreme end is about introducing only finger foods and nothing else. But...there is a happy medium between the two that still ensures baby gets their much needed iron intake but has control over their intake.
Baby led introduction to solids (also the title of NZ study BLISS) is about going at baby's pace, offering a range of textures, and finger foods from the get go. This helps them navigate their gag reflex (very different to choking and what we WANT to happen) and take only what they feel like eating. Often with purees we have a set amount we offer whether it be one teaspoon per meal at one end of the scale, or as much as possible even if they're turning away at the other end.
The two most important things with introducing solids are...
▪ Giving baby a chance to enjoy food so they have a positive association with it (knowing when to stop offering and going at baby's pace)
▪ Getting additional nutrients that breastmilk or formula alone cannot provide from 6 months onwards
Things like pureed mince or liver as a dipping sauce or spread for baked kumara fries is a great example of a range of textures with finger foods that also gets that much needed iron in. Plant sources (non-haem iron) are not a great source of iron alone as we need A LOT to get the same levels. Plus the type of iron isn't as bioavailable - easily absorbed as haem iron (animal sources). By all means, spinach is a great food so having some of this is an awesome idea...just not as baby's sole iron containing food!
As with anything, finger foods are not recommended until baby can hold their head up properly and sit supported I.e. in a bucket seat. Be mindful of objects that are windpipe in size like whole cherry tomatoes, whole grapes, raw apple, pieces of chopped sausage...these can get lodged easily (plus don't squish like baked potato for example) so always chop into smaller pieces or cook until soft. If introducing raw, consider waiting a little until they can handle foods easier.
Kekoa's owner Alexis is a midwife and nutritionist and loves to help new parents navigate all that comes with parenting. She regularly presents new topics to help inform you, and always aims for a balanced approach.