If you surveyed new parents, no doubt one of the most common worries would be whether their baby is getting enough to eat. Don't worry, your parental intuition will soon help you identify hunger from your baby's other grievances! Like much of the whole baby raising experience, there is no 'one size fits all'. Below are some basic guidelines to help you as you start out.
Starting out: The most important thing as you start solids is not quantity but more so just getting your baby used to taking food from a spoon and adjusting to new tastes and textures. Your bub will still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk or formula so you don't need to give your baby too much food initially.
When to feed: As your bub will still be getting most of their nutrients from their milk, offer solids after a breast or bottle feed. That way, solids aren't replacing milk. Start by offering ½ to 1 teaspoons of food on a baby friendly spoon, after the mid-morning feed seems to be a popular time for many parents.
Offer foods singly or in combination with other foods Introduce new foods at a rate that suits your baby and to encourage variety. Once your baby is happy taking a few different foods, feel free to mix them together, such as pumpkin and zucchini or rice cereal and pear. The more skilled they get at eating, the more exotic the combinations you can create!
How many meals per day? One meal a day is all a baby needs as they start out on solids. Even if your baby just tastes the food on the first days it is a step in the right direction.
Introduce foods at a rate that suits baby: Over the next few weeks, gradually increase the amount of food you offer your baby, still keeping solid meals to after a breast or bottle feed. When your baby is comfortably eating between 2 tablespoons to half a cup of food at one meal, you could add in a second meal, say after the mid-afternoon breast or bottle feed.
Texture: Once baby can swallow smooth foods you can progress quickly to finely mashed foods from 6 months. As baby learns to chew and swallow well, steadily progress to a coarser mashed texture. From around 8 months baby can manage small soft lumps and safe finger foods. Exploring different tastes and textures is an essential part of baby’s development. Learning to chew stimulates and strengthens all the muscles needed to begin speaking.
Multiple meals: By eight months, your baby has hopefully developed a fondness for solid food and is feasting on two to three meals a day. Generally, from 8 months babies’ progress to three meals per day with 1 or 2 small snacks in-between.
More food, less milk: Once your baby's eating is well established around the 8- month stage, you can begin to offer solids before a milk feed. Your baby might develop a fondness for solids over milk from this age onwards don't worry, it's a natural progression and the good news is your food loving baby will now be getting lots of their essential nutrients from the food they eat.