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Help — my baby hates solids!

Starting your baby on solids can be a fun — albeit messy — affair. But the fun wears off pretty fast when your little one develops a fussy palate. When you’re starting your baby on “real food”, what are some of the tips and strategies you can use to ensure the meals you serve are as palatable and nutritious as possible?

From around 4 to 6 months of age, your baby is ready to experiment outside of the milk bar with solid foods. Until this age, they need only breastmilk or formula to survive, but as they grow and develop, they reach a point where their nutrient stores can no longer be met by milk alone.

You can start introducing solids any time from around 4 months, and Lynsey Bradley, child nutritionist and owner of Sydney-based nutrition school, Tuckshop, suggests it’s worthwhile starting your baby on food before they hit the 7-month-old mark.

“Studies have shown an increased risk of allergies when solids are delayed past 7 months,” she says. “There is also a risk that your baby will lack iron and some also say that delayed introduction of solids can lead to very fussy children.”

Fussy babies and fussy children lead to frustrating meal times, both for the kids and for the parents. So, how can you manage a fussy eater?

Don’t be afraid to take a step back

We tend to think of our baby’s growth as a process that moves forward in one straight line. The truth is, they zigzag with their milestones more often than not, taking great strides forward one day, only to move back a few paces the next.

For instance, your baby may be happily chomping away on baby rice cereal for a week or two, before unceremoniously deciding they’re no longer interested.

Case in point: Just before my daughter’s first birthday, she abruptly lost her appetite. All of the meals she usually enjoyed, like spaghetti bolognese and cottage pie, were suddenly met with a clamped mouth.

Within a few days, she had a snotty nose, which made me realise she must have had a sore throat, making swallowing her previously-favoured meals a painful chore.

A busy mum’s guide to food >>

Although she was on the mend from her mini-cold within a week or so, it took at least a few weeks afterward for her to get back to normal.

To make sure she still had a full belly, I fed her smooth, pureed meat and vegetable mixes from the supermarket. Soon after that, she began taking slightly chunkier homemade purees again and we’re now slowly re-introducing finger foods, like cooked chicken, pasta and sausages.

The moral of the story? Don’t fret about moving back a stage or two with your baby’s food progress. If you start your baby on solid food and they decide they’re not interested, try something else instead. Heinz offers a range of products specifically designed for a new, discerning palate. Consider trying each flavour to determine which one your child likes best and build from there.

Is my baby fussy because they’re not ready for solids?

The honest answer? There’s no way to tell when a baby is “ready”. Experts suggest you look for signs of readiness. For instance, your baby may seem interested in the food you’re eating, or you may pick up on changed routines that indicate that their milk feeds aren’t quite filling them up.

It’s really up to you to use your discretion about when to start. If you have any questions or concerns about when to start your little one on solids, it doesn’t hurt to speak to your GP or contact Health Direct’s Pregnancy and Baby Hotline. This is a free health service provided by the Australian Government.

More baby tips

Is my baby ready for solid foods?
The 5 Ts of introducing solids to your baby
The busy mum’s guide to healthy baby snacks

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