Health Magazine

My Take on Introducing Solids

By Staceycurcio @staceymccosker

At 4.5 months, our little one started showing signs that she was ready for food. She started to become really interested in what we were eating, she was sitting upright, and she had good control of her mouth and upper body.

When it comes to introducing solids, here are some things to keep in mind:

    Solids don't replace formula or breast milk. Breast milk offers more than food can when it comes to immunological and microbial support, and of course, comfort. Infant formula should be used until 12 months of age, and breast milk should be encouraged for as long as the child needs, and the mother wants.
    Be flexible and thoughtful regarding your baby's first foods. First foods differ enormously between countries and cultures. In Alaska, a baby's first food is usually seal blubber or seaweed. In Tanzania, it's bone marrow. In France, it's vegetable soup. In many Western countries, it's rice-cereal (see previous post on this!). My point is... there is flexibility. We all have different opinions and thoughts about what is truly nourishing for our babies.
Our baby's first foods were - Avocado, sweet potato, watermelon, pumpkin, ghee, snake beans, lime, banana, gelatin, broccoli, meat, eggs, blueberries, peas, coconut, yoghurt, oats and chia seeds.
    Let your baby explore food. A combination of baby-led weaning and home-made purees worked for us. Let your baby play with a spoon, take her time and get dirty. Although it's not always possible, try not to rush meal times.
    Introduce more allergenic foods early (in children who are ready). There's a lot of debate around 'when' is best to introduce solids. As I've mentioned, our little one seemed very ready at 4.5 months, but other babies might not be ready until much later. It seems the immune system has a window in which it's quite 'forgiving' (between 4-6 months), making this a prime time to introduce more allergenic foods such as peanuts, dairy, wheat, soy and egg. Here, here and here is more commentary on the topic.
    Eat together. Eating is not just instinctive and intuitive for babies, it's a learned behaviour. When possible, eat with you baby so they can see how it's done, and how enjoyable it is.
    Babies are intuitive and mindful eaters. I have learnt to trust our baby's natural hunger and fullness signals. We want to foster this. Adopting mindful eating practices during infancy and childhood can have huge benefits right into adulthood. As a parent, it's my job to provide a wide range of healthy foods for my baby, but it's her job to decide how much and how quickly she eats.
    Be patient. It took our baby many attempts before she was comfortable with the texture and temperature of certain foods. Introducing food is a huge adjustment for babies physically and emotionally, and it takes time! Don't rush your baby, be persistent and offer the good stuff often.
    Include plenty of Iron rich foods. At around 6 months, the iron stores that were supplied to your baby in utero are depleted AND iron is no longer adequately supplied by breast milk or formula alone. This means when it comes to solids, Iron rich foods are critical! Some good options are - minced red meat, minced chicken and pork, small amounts of liver in other foods, bone broths, pureed green leafy vegetables, egg yolk, prunes, goji berries.
    Home-made is best. Remember that a baby's palate is very delicate. Many pre-prepared purees are not only high in sugar, but high in salt. It's important not to introduce artificially sweetened and/or salty foods to babies, or foods with added flavourings.
    Breast feeding mothers - eat your veggies! The reason that breastfed babies are more likely to eat a wide variety of foods and adapt more readily during the weaning process is due to exposure through breast milk. This also lends itself to better nutrient intakes and healthier diets throughout life. Powerful stuff!

Until next time,

Stacey.


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