As you accompany your child on their journey to becoming confident eaters, introducing solids consists of a huge step forward. It is an incredibly exciting time. Those signs that baby is ready are in and you have got your first choice of food ready to go!
What will it be? A cereal, some fruit? Will you try purees, or go for Baby-Led weaning? There is so much info out there you may find yourself confused as to what you should do!
Here I am trying to clarify a few of the daunting things that may come your way, but remember: be in-tune with your child’s appetite, be patient with your child’s development and see the bigger picture: your child is learning to become a confident eater, you can set them up for success, over the next 18 years.
The age to start solids.
The WHO’s advice and most of the advice here in Australia, is to start babies at 6 months plus signs of readiness. So if your baby seems ready at 5 months, wait a little bit. If your baby is 6 months old, but not showing signs of readiness, then wait some more. If your baby has reflux then your paediatrician may well have recommended you start earlier, as well as if there are nut allergies in the family. Milk is a baby’s superfood, perfectly adapted to their small stomach, yet around 6 months of age, other nutritional needs require the introduction of solids.
At 6 months of age, babies require additional iron sources. Most cereals are iron-fortified and can be offered from 6 months onwards, so do meat, fish, legumes and wholegrain.There is no need to overthink nutrition. The simplest way to provide nutrients is to use whole foods prepared from scratch.
See my instagram for inspiring, easy family meals and healthy snacks that can be adapted to purees or baby led weaning. Here grab my 30 food ideas of baby led weaning.
Between 6 months of age (sometimes earlier if your paediatrician has recommended it) and age 1, it is important to introduce allergens. If allergies run in your family or if your child has eczema, talk to your GP. Allergens need to be introduce in a texture that’s adapted to babies. With some allergens yo can prepare a smooth paste and pop it on the lips of baby. If there is no reaction, then a 1/4 tsp mixed in puree can be offered, moving on to 1/2 tsp in due course. Once it is established that there is not reaction, allergens become part of the diet a child consumes weekly to keep the immunity up.
There are 9 allergens to think of:
- Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamias, brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios)
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, coconut husk and flesh etc).
- Egg needs to be well cooked and smoothed into a paste, mixed into in a puree, it will be easier to swallow.
- Dairy, most parents will know early on if their child is allergic, as cows’ milk protein makes its way through breastmilk and is present in baby formula. Yet it is recommended to introduce yoghurt, too, in small quantities (1/4-1/2 teaspoon, slowly building up towards age 1, when full fat milk will replace formula).
- Soy, can be introduced as milk or yoghurt.
Gagging and Choking
One you have worked out the difference between Gagging and choking, you will be more conformable with the noisy expel you child produces when, after they have played with a food in their mouth, they simply get it out. Gagging is very much a mouth exploration of bits of food, before swallowing them and it is a security that protects your child from choking, so look at it as a skill that’s being learned whilst eating. Choking is when the airways are blocked, it’s mostly silent, children may be very still. This is why you supervise at all times and why you sit them properly and securely. When I was a new mum, I learned the Heimlich manoeuvrer for babies, I highly recommend it, it will give you the reassurance you need.
Finger Food and Purees
Baby led weaning is wonderful, purees can also provide good iron sources. I recommend you do a bit of both. At some stage allowing your child to feed themselves is a good idea as most babies want and need to explore their food eventually. Isn’t it brilliant to see glimpses of your future confident eater?
There are many reasons why your child may refuse food, is it fatigue? is it the texture? Is it the taste? Is it teething?Is it appetite? Is it pressure? Be in tune, be patient, be ready to try again some other time. Still remember you are progressing your child to new tastes and textures, it may be slow, and there may be setbacks but that’s ok!
I always tell the story of the day I removed the plastic tablecloth from our dining table. It had been protecting it for years, and now my kids were grown enough that I did not fear anymore spills everywhere. As I proceeded to pack the table cloth, I noticed the bottom had folded around all of its base. I had never paid much attention to the fold, but that day I finally noticed that it was filled with years of dried food spills! Yuck!
Anyway it was a day to celebrate, our dining table belonged to all of us now, not just the kids! I have met many mums who have an issue with mess and dirt, I get it, even after I told you this story of mine! The truth is there is no way around it, unless you control every spoon that goes into your child’s mouth, in which case raising a confident eater will be tricky…
Wishing you a wonderful journey in raising a confident eater.
#solids #choking #gagging #baby #selfregulation #babyledweaning #blw #allergies #allergens