by Alyssa Bauman, Nourished.ca
I’m sure there are so many emotions running through your head right now – solids already? – but feeding baby their first solid food can be thrilling! Between 4-6 months old is the optimal age for starting solids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But only you know your baby, so go with their signs and pay attention to their cues.
The best piece of advice that I can give you, both from a nutrition standpoint, and from my own personal experiences feeding my own three children is to flow into it with an open mind – free from anxiety – and to forgo all the ‘rules.’ Instead, fear not, jump in and enjoy this first milestone. It will make all the difference and will even increase your baby’s nutrient intake.
What to Feed Your Baby First
Keep foods as nutrient dense as possible. I am big fan of organic. Look to the Environmental Working Group for organic recommendations. Baby’s system is so pure and can only handle a little at a time, so it is important to pack in the nutrient punch. Stick to whole foods. Think mashed avocado, smashed peas, mashed banana, pureed sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots and other vegetables. Thin out vegetables by adding a little breast milk or formula to get extra nutrients and calories. There is no reason to ever feed your baby processed and packaged foods, sugary foods, high salted foods, candies, or snack foods.
How To Introduce New Foods
After you have introduced fruits, vegetables, and iron fortified cereals, add in pureed poultry and meats, legumes, whole fat plain dairy-like yogurt, and kefir (keep added sugars to a minimum). When introducing new foods, remember: the slower, the better. There is no rush. Wait at least a day before introducing another food to monitor your baby’s reaction. As far as the commonly allergenic foods – eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish, the old rule of thumb was to wait before introducing these until baby’s first birthday, but more relevant research suggests that introducing them earlier, between 4-6 months, may actually help prevent food allergies. Again, do it slowly. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends waiting three to five days before introducing each one of the more commonly allergenic foods.
How Much Food To Feed Per Day
By 6-7 months, baby can be eating solid foods twice a day, aiming for 3 meals a day by 8-9 months old (in between breast or formula feeding). Only you know your child, so let them guide you. By 9 months, a typical day could look like this: Breast milk/formula, iron fortified cereal like organic baby oats, pureed vegetables, fruit and protein—pureed poultry, fish and meat, lentils, plain whole fat yogurt, eggs (if not allergic).
Foods to Avoid
Cow’s Milk and Soy Milk: Both milks contain proteins that are hard for baby’s young and sensitive digestive tract, so hold off. In fact, there is no need to ever give children these milks. I know, contrary to popular belief, but more and more parents are ditching dairy completely. There are so many other calcium sources that are more readily absorbed – think kale, spinach , mustard greens, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, edamame, organic almonds, Brazilian nuts, flax seeds, almond milk, sesame seeds , beans, herring. A green smoothie like the Nourished Go-Go Juice has more absorbable calcium than milk. So my biggest piece of advice is to start them on a green smoothie as soon as they can drink on their own. The faster they get used to the taste of greens, the more nourished they will be.
Related: Read the full 2018 Baby Guide Online
Honey: Baby’s intestinal tract can not handle potential spores honey may harbour. These spores can produce life threatening toxins. So no honey until at least 12 months.
Processed Meats: Salami, bacon, hot dogs, very processed cold cuts, smoked meats, and other highly processed meats are not only nutrient void, but contain high levels of damaging nitrates, and way too much sodium for baby’s tract.
Watch for Choking Hazards: Make sure to cut foods into at least ½-inch pieces.
Grapes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and other vegetables are all choking hazards if not cut small. Pumpkin seeds, pits from cherries, stone fruit, watermelon, nuts, popcorn, pretzels, chips, hard candies, sticky foods like nut butters, and dried fruits can also get stuck in baby’s throat so it is best to wait on these foods altogether. This kind of goes without saying, but your baby doesn’t need gummy bears or marshmallows (and neither do you!)
Finger Foods: You will love these and so will baby. Watching your baby play with their food is part of the experience, so your patience is indeed required! Allowing your baby to use their pincer grip while picking up, smashing and throwing their foods is part of the exploration of food. The more freedom they have, the more adventurous they will be in trying new foods. So for the sake of that alone, allow them to play. Whole foods are favourite fingers foods: ½ inch cut up fruit and vegetables, scrambled or broken hard boiled eggs, cubed tofu, whole grain pastas, soft cooked beans, cubed meats, whole grain cereal pieces, and cubed cheeses.
Certified holistic nutritionist and health consultant, Alyssa Bauman, founded Nourished (a health consulting firm) six years ago when she was constantly being asked for healthy living advice. It’s not as difficult as it seems, that’s where Alyssa comes in and guides you through whatever your nutritional needs may be. When she isn’t upgrading food choices, she will be playing in the park with her most treasured muses – her three daughters. www.nourished.ca