Is your baby ready for solids? Get your camera ready! These are the super cute feeding milestones that you won’t want to miss.
1. first tastes
Surprise, wonder and awe! Oh, those cute little facial expressions your baby uses as they discover a new smell, taste and sensation on their lips and tongue.
Your baby will be ready for eating when they have good head and neck control, can sit supported in an upright position and show interest in food. Their first tastes may be just that, tastes. Share your baby’s wonder of their first lick or suck from a spoon, or very soft piece of finger food.
2. first finger food
Remember the first time you met your baby and they wrapped their tiny little fingers around yours? Now, before you know it, they are wrapping those same little fingers around a piece of food.
Your baby can start finger feeding from 6 months of age. It takes time for your baby to learn all of the skills needed to safely eat a range of food textures. Your baby’s first finger foods should be very soft such as roast pumpkin or sweet potato or very ripe fruit such as banana or avocado. Cut the food into long stick shapes, approximately the size of your pinky finger. This makes it much easier for your baby to grab and hold on to the piece of food and bring it to their mouth.
3. first messy meal
Be ready for spaghetti in the hair, avocado on the nose, mashed potato through fingers and a happy grin!
From the moment your baby starts solids, they will learn so much by exploring food. They learn to feed themselves, develop fine motor skills ( by using and strengthening the small muscles of their fingers) and discover new words (like squash, swirl, green, noodles). Exploring various foods early on is also known to increase your baby’s acceptance of a diverse range of food as they grow.
4. first time drinking from a cup
Your baby has been watching you drink from your coffee mug their whole life. Now it’s their turn! Well, not for coffee but to drink from a cup. They will be so eager to copy you.
You can teach your baby to drink from an open cup from 6 months of age. It’s a great oral motor skill to develop as it teaches their mouth (jaw, lips, tongue) to move in a different way to sucking on a bottle or breast. Small mouths require small cups. Only put a small amount of liquid in the cup and guide it slowly to your baby’s lips. Learning to drink takes time so be prepared for some soggy mealtimes. The bath is a great place to practice cup drinking, with clean water of course!
5. first time using a spoon
What an achievement! Your baby will be so happy to succeed in bringing their spoon to their mouth. You won’t want to miss that smile of satisfaction!
Most babies won’t be able to use a spoon efficiently until the age of 18 months but they will be reaching for the spoon so much earlier. Let your baby take the spoon from you, wave it, bang it on the table and throw it over the side of their highchair. Yes, it’s messy but it is a great way for your baby to learn how to use it. Keep a couple of spoons handy as your baby may like to play and practice self-feeding with the spoon while you feed them.
6. first “YUM!”
“YUM, YUM, YUM!” Cue parent delight and happy dance. Your baby just said their first ‘yum!’
Your baby will start using their first words around the time of their first birthday. They will gradually build their vocabulary and start using two words together at approximately 18 months of age. You can help your baby learn new words at mealtimes by eating together and talking about what you see, for example, ‘orange carrot’, ‘long noodles’, ‘big, crunchy biscuit’.
These are just a few examples of the delight that your baby will experience as they learn to eat. Be present in the moment and share the joy. As a dietitian, family therapist and feeding researcher, Ellyn Satter says “a good feeding relationship with your child starts at day one and makes all the difference between joy or struggle in feeding.”
Please note, the ages provided in this article are based on typical developmental milestones. If you are concerned that your child is not meeting their developmental milestones please talk to your Maternal and Child Health Nurse, Paediatrician or General Practioner for support.