My main concerns are safety, eating whole foods, and creating, maintaining and sustaining a feeding relationship while dishing out the control and allowing baby led feeding to commence.
There are some important things to consider when you are starting solids with your baby.
1. Never leave your child unattended. Sit with them and watch them eat.
2. There is no need to puree food. You can use fork- mashed and finger foods as the first foods and then increase the texture according to how your baby is doing. Read more about starting solids here. (A small note about texture: It is a very good idea to give your babies different textures. It is important to help them develop muscles in their mouths and is being linked to decreasing picky eaters among other benefits.)
3. Avoid foods that can cause your baby to choke. Such foods include: popcorn, nuts, hard candies, hard raw vegetables such as carrots, whole marshmallows, jellybeans, thick layers of peanut butter or other nut and seed butters, ice cubes.
4. Foods such as hot dogs and grapes should be cut lengthwise and then into small pieces.
5. Food and drinks should be pasteurized. These include milk, soft cheeses (feta, brie, camembert) and juice (if you are offering this).
6. Honey or sugar is not recommended for children until after they are 1 year old.
7. It is a good idea for every parent and caregiver to take an infant CPR course.
8. Gagging is very normal for babies to do when they are first learning how to eat solid foods. If the baby gags a little but continues to breathe and eat it is not a problem. Textured food will encourage the baby to swallow. If you are concerned, you could wait to introduce solids. I would not recommend pureeing food if the baby is gagging but I would encourage you to continue with fork mashed or finger foods.
9. Let your baby feed themselves either using a utensil or their hands. There is no need for you to feed the baby.
10. Do not force the baby to eat. Food for the first year is not where they are meeting the majority of their nutritional needs but is more about learning and developing. Read more about dishing out the control here.
Do you have questions about how to start solids safely with your baby? Contact Jill, Nurture The Future's Registered Dietitian at email@example.com