Allowing baby to lead you into his or her new found world of solids is lots of fun. By the age of 7 months most babies have begun growing milk teeth. My Wolly got his first two at 5 months and now at 11 months he just cut tooth number 8! I’ve seen one year olds who have no teeth yet, or who have just cut their first 2 or 4 (upper and lower center) so don’t be alarmed if your little one is taking his or her time. Even if the teeth are not showing yet most babies older than 7 months have strong enough gums for chomping down on pureed or soft foods. Also by this time baby should be able to sit up and hold his head up without support, and will probably start getting curious about what is in your plate or what you are putting into your mouth. This is when you can offer baby some soft foods or pureed versions of whatever you are having for dinner but without the seasoning. It is also a good time to make baby part of family mealtimes so, by establishing a routine, your baby begins to understand (and even get excited about) mealtimes.
Allow your baby to experiment with different textures and tastes by offering various soft (melt-in-the-mouth) foods on a non-breakable plate accompanied by a beaker or training cup of water. Cut up pieces of banana, seedless watermelon, soft potato, avocado, boiled soft carrots, brown bread (toast) with a little butter or yoghurt, soft pasta ( for older babies 9 months and up). Enjoy watching your baby pick at and try different foods and especially take in all the different facial expressions. I laughed when my little guy tried fresh farm yoghurt for the first time. It was slightly tangy so he made a couple of grimaces but then he kept asking for more.
I started Wolly on pureed vegetables and fruits and baby cereals like Purity. Lately we are doing a lot of experimenting so now I know he likes oranges, bananas, pawpaw, bread, biscuits, yoghurt, yam, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and a Ghanaian local dish called ‘banku’ with okro soup and ‘kontomire’ (a dish made up mainly of greens).
If your baby rejects a particular food, move on to something else then try again later. It is always advisable to start with vegetables before going into fruits since fruits are sweeter and may cause your baby to develop a ‘sweet tooth’ and reject vegetables when you try to introduce them. Pureed lentils, zucchini and carrots are good choices for starters and remember that your baby doesn’t need any added salt, sugar or other spices in their food. Keep it simple. Also make sure you cook carrots before offering them to your baby as raw carrots pose a choking hazard. Grapes can also choke a baby so if you offer your baby grapes, make sure to cut them in half. The general rule-of-thumb goes by this question: “does it melt in the mouth?”.
Baby-led weaning is fun because it doesn’t make one feel so pressured about baby’s transition to solids. Just have fun with your baby and encourage him or her to eat healthy by offering various interesting and colorful options. Before the age of 2 years, your little one still needs some milk and fat in their diet so if you have stopped breast-feeding, try to provide a healthy substitute in the form of natural milk products like Coconut milk, almond milk, or special milk formula for babies if needed. Much love to you from me and Nolly Wolly in Ghana! Till next time..