Lindsay Archibald-Durham is a paediatric dietician with over 13 years of experience in the UK. She is a wife and mother of two. She is an infant feeding expert who shares the why, what and when of introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet and discusses fussy eating and infant nutrition.
April 17 th, 2015
Why solid foods?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that infants are started on solid foods at around six months. Some babies can be ready at as little as four months and will start showing signs early on that they are ready to progress. These signs include when your baby starts reaching out for the food on your plate, keeping their head up more, putting things in their mouth, they start losing their tongue reflex and stop spitting things out. This just means that your baby is developing mentally and they are looking for something else. Ultimately we want our babies to progress to eating with the rest of the family.
The what & when of weaning
Even if your baby was born premature, you need to treat your baby like a full term baby. Start the exciting journey of introducing your little one to solid foods at four months. It is more beneficial to start your baby on solid foods and introducing them to the world of flavour and texture. At four months start introducing vegetables and fruits to their diet in a very pureed form. Use a blender and puree baby cereals, fruits like banana and mango, or vegetables like butternut and squash. At six months, start introducing proteins like meat, fish and egg to your baby’s diet. Even if your baby has no visible teeth, their gums are still hard and you can start introducing less pureed food with soft lumps. Finger-foods that are easy for your baby to hold should also now be introduced into their diet. Flings (potato chips) are not healthy but are a great way to teach your baby the proper hand to mouth actions.
For the fussy eaters
Always remember that the process of introducing solid foods to your baby is a learning curve. There will be gagging, spitting out and a lot of disliked flavours and foods at first. As long as you never force-feed your baby: allow your baby to adjust because it can take about 15 exposures for your baby to accept a flavour. From four to seven months is your window of opportunity to introduce and increase your baby’s acceptance of flavours. Early exposure has been tentatively scientifically proven to limit fussy adult eaters. Enjoy the weaning process even if it is a messy affair. That is how your baby learns.
Nutrition is better than cure
Never start introducing foods other than breast or baby milk to your baby before 17 weeks because this can lead to digestive system or allergy problems. If there is a history of food allergies in your family, try one food for three consecutive days. Introduce a new food either in the morning or at lunch time, so that if there is a delayed reaction you can pick it up in time. Until age one you need to boil and mash food for your baby. You can use a blender in the beginning before moving on to a fork or potato masher. When cooking fish, chicken or eggs, ensure the foods are well cooked. This will decrease the risk of salmonella poisoning. Eggs are an easy, quick, nutritious and cheap meal. The foods you need to avoid for babies younger than one year are: fruit juices, coffee, full cream milk, salt, honey, spices, diet foods and whole nuts.
For more nutrition information for your baby visit www.paediatricdietttian.co.za
Spoken as part of a Baby Nutrition Workshop held on 13 April, 2015 in-store at Me, Mom and Dad at the Greenstone Shopping Centre, Edenvale.
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