Nope, the baby didn’t come early, I’m still pregnant and not thinking about homemade purees or food mess or starting this little one on solids for a loooong time… but I’ve loved the interest many of you have shown on this pregnancy journey with Pure Beginnings and a number of questions have come up around babies starting solids. So, let’s chat about it!
While I’ve done this twice before (and have my own opinions and thoughts on it), I’m no expert, and back when my kids were 6 months I went with the guidance of my local health nurse, fellow moms’ advice, a couple books and a (little) bit of (sleep deprived) initiative.
So I contacted my friend Deidre Lindeque, who is a Nutripaeds Dietitian and Lactation Consultant, (check them out on Facebook here). I really do trust what Deidre has to say and I must say, I read with glee the info she sent me, as it falls very much in line with what I did with our boys, and what I wholeheartedly agree with. Relief!
Let’s dive right in:
WHEN TO START FEEDING BUBS SOLIDS:
Deidre agrees that between 4 and 6 months is a good time to start. I started both of my boys at 6 months (or slightly later). I was travelling New Zealand at the time my youngest was 6 months and was not planning to puree home grown organic veggies en route. The boob would suffice. It can be tricky to know when to start if your baby was a preemie for eg, so here are some things to look out for:
- Baby’s ability to hold up his head,
- His ability to sit well with support,
- Seeming dissatisfied after milk feeds,
- Showing an increased interest in YOUR food at family mealtimes,
- Absence of the ‘tongue thrust reflex’ – i.e. pushing everything that is put in his mouth back out!
- (Do bear in mind, though, that some preemies may have developmental delays that mean they may not display ALL these signs).
WHAT TO START WITH: (ahhhh… this is a controversial one)
‘Scientists tell us that genetic programming and nutritional habits are formed within the first 1000 days of life. That is from conception until two years of age. This period of life lays down many foundations and most importantly the blue print and map for your health. As parents there is so much we can do to assist our children in laying down a positive health blue print. One aspect is monitoring the amount of sugars that go into our children’s diet. We can do this from before birth, and definitely when we wean onto a solid diet. Breastmilk is always the gold standard so if we just take a moment to look at breastmilk and what is actually in breastmilk. Mature milk is mostly water with fats (55%), carbohydrates (37%), proteins (8%), and various elements such as minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. So if this is the case why do we wean babies onto 78% carbohydrates and 12% fat and 10% protein – which is a make up of most BABY CEREALS. We totally switch the body’s source of energy’. (Nutripaeds) AMEN! I’ve ALWAYS been anti baby cereals. I’m crying with happiness here.
*Disclaimer: While breast is best, I know of many moms personally who have had a very tough time breastfeeding and have had no other choice but to switch to formula. If this is you, please please please don’t feel judged. Every mom has her own experience and her own story. We love you.*
Deidre suggests weaning onto less processed man made foods like vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. Combos such as avocado with mashed paw paw, or gem squash and blended olives. Maybe some sweet potato and macadamia nut butter. All these options present a nutritional profile more similar to breastmilk than a traditional weaning cereal. (I’ve always stuck to less sugary veggies and introduced fruits later as once those virgin taste buds know the taste of a grape or an orange, it’s hard to convince them marrow and asparagus is the flavour of the day.)
‘Healthy unprocessed grains like millet, spelt, oats, rice and quinoa can definitely be included in your baby’s diet down the line but no need to rush these introductions in the first few weeks of weaning’.
‘Thanks to the latest allergy research, feeding protein foods or high risk allergen foods early on into solid introduction is not only safe but may also be protective against the child developing an allergy to a specific protein food. Protein foods include fish, egg, nut butters, chicken, fish, beef and lamb’.
So, I know you’re itching to know exactly WHAT foods are recommended: Here’s what Nutripaeds suggest:
- Steamed (or lightly broiled) whole vegetables such as green beans, baby sweetcorn, mange-tout/ sugar-snap peas)
- Steamed or lightly broiled florets of broccoli or cauliflower
- Steamed, roasted or stir fried vegetable sticks such as carrot, pumpkin, butternut, potato, aubergine, sweet potato, parsnip, baby marrows,
- Raw sticks of cucumber (great when straight from fridge to ease the gums of teething babies)
- Thick slices of avocado (not over-ripe and they become very soft and squishy)
- Fruit such as pear, apple, banana, peach, nectarine, halved grapes, pawpaw, mango – either whole or as sticks
- Cheese – sticks of firm cheese e.g. Cheddar or gouda and well as cubes/triangles of full fat cream cheese
- Dried fruits such as mango strips. Baby sweet corn and fingers of peeled cucumber and avocado are all yummy and easy finger foods.
- Starchy foods are nice ways to incorporate energy especially into fussy eaters, some fun finger starchy include: balls made of cooked rice or quinoa and small pieces of toast fingers ,
- Rice cakes, rusks and dry breakfast cereals such as all bran flakes and multigrain oatees.
- Mini brown bread sandwiches cut into triangles, fingers or squares – Suitable fillings include mashed banana, hummus, grated cheese, cream cheese, mashed avocado, nut butters.
- Falafels, Lentil balls and Mini meatballs – beef, chicken, ostrich and lamb mince variants – one can also cook it as a meatloaf and cut it into strips.
- Cubes of firm cooked fish, fish balls made with minced fish.
- Cubes of tofu, slices or quarters of hard boiled eggs or strips of well cooked omelette.
- Fishcakes or fish fingers (not processed variants)
Yeeeeowzers. Too much info coming your way? Well, Nutripaeds have been ever so kind, to share with us a brief overview of a Step-by-Step (and week-by-week) Weaning Guide which you can download here: Nutripaeds Weaning Guide.
We have so much deeply valuable information for you – I’ve split this blog post into 2 parts – because, I’m not sure about you but my brain-of-mush cannot take much more. In the next blog post (Let’s talk Baby Food: Part 2) we’re going to talk about The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen, and Baby Led Weaning compared to Normal Weaning.