First bites

18 January 2024

When is it time to start with first bites?

When your little one is between 4 and 6 months old, you can start introducing the first small bites. It is important to remember that these practice bites are not a substitute for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. You can give your baby almost any healthy food, such as vegetables, fruit, potatoes, fish and porridge. However, avoid raw fish/meat products and cow’s milk during the first year.

Pay particular attention to signals from your baby. Does he make smacking noises? Does he follow the food with his eyes? Then it might be time to start with first bites. Every child has their own pace. Make sure your baby can sit upright and swallow properly. When your baby is 6 months old, he also needs solid food in addition to breast or bottle feeding.

What do you give as a first bite?

Think of a spoonful of mashed vegetables or fruit. Finely ground, cooked meat or fish is also an option. In the beginning, you prefer to give food with a mild taste so as not to make too much of a difference with the sweet taste of breast or bottle feeding.

Suitable fruits to start with include banana, peach, pear and melon. Vegetables with a mild taste such as cauliflower, peas, beans, broccoli, carrots or pumpkin are good choices.

Pasta, potato and rice

As a snack, your baby can also try pasta, potato or rice. Grind it well or mash it with a fork. Start with white pasta, white rice and, if you want to give porridge, occasionally some rice flour porridge. White varieties contain less fiber than whole wheat pasta or brown rice. This way, your child’s intestines will gradually get used to fiber in the diet.

If this goes well, gradually switch to whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Once your baby is used to practice snacks, you can also introduce brown bread as a first bite.

Start with one flavor

Let your child get used to individual flavors first and do not introduce mixed flavors yet. Repeat the same flavor several times, because recognizing flavors is important. This does not necessarily have to happen on consecutive days. Sometimes a child needs to taste 10 times before he or she appreciates a flavor. If your child is used to individual flavors, you can try variations such as apple with peach, strawberry with banana, kiwi with pear, carrot with pumpkin, peeled tomato with zucchini and cauliflower with broccoli.

Why do you provide practice snacks?

Practice snacks help your child get used to different flavors than that of warm milk. In addition, your baby learns to eat with a spoon and exercises the mouth muscles. By starting practice snacks between 4 and 6 months, you can reduce the risk of food hypersensitivity in your baby. ​

There was initially the idea that babies who are given training snacks under the age of 6 months are more likely to develop food hypersensitivity. However, it is now clear that this risk actually decreases if you start with practice snacks between the ages of 4 and 6 months. To reduce the risk of food allergies, it is recommended to offer different types of food, including peanut butter and egg, between 4 and 6 months.

Preventing food allergies

To prevent food allergies, it is recommended to also introduce peanut butter and egg before 8 months. If your baby has severe eczema or a food allergy, it is extra important to start early with different types of food, such as eggs and peanut butter. Start this before the age of 6 months, but first consult your child’s treating doctor or dietitian.

How do you prepare practice snacks? From fine to coarse

Use a blender, hand blender or mash the practice snacks with a fork. Make it very nice in the beginning. Add some water, a knob of soft margarine or a spoonful of healthy fat, such as olive oil and sunflower oil, if it is too dry. ​

If your baby eats this easily, mash it a little less finely. If this also goes down smoothly, it is sufficient to just cut the food into small pieces.

If your little one is only getting a few spoonfuls, you can mash up some of what’s on your own plate. Make sure there is no salt in your food. You can also mash some of the fruit that you eat in between.

In any case, it is useful to have your little one at the table in a high chair – possibly with a food tray. Enjoy your meal!

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