Introducing solid foods to a baby can be an extremely daunting task for many parents, with questions around when to introduce our baby to food, what to feed them and how to introduce solids to a baby all circling round an already busy mind. Reading conflicting information online in addition to hearing the experiences of family and friends can make it altogether overwhelming.
Getting to grips with how to introduce food to your baby is an important stage of parenting, in order to know how to navigate allergenic foods, be aware of the risk of choking and ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.
We are thrilled to be joined by registered pediatric dietician Edwena Kennedy to help us with all the information we need to get started with our baby’s first solid foods.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The signs of readiness to look for before starting solids
- What kind of foods to offer your baby
- Which foods to avoid feeding your baby
- How to navigate baby led feeding
- How to introduce allergenic foods
- What to do about picky eating
When to introduce solids to your baby
Research now shows that we should be waiting until closer to six months of age to start solids, but there is lots that can be done beforehand to prepare yourself. While your baby showing more of an interest in food is certainly a sign of readiness, it’s not the only one and there are other cues to look out for.
One of the most important signs your baby is ready for solids is when they can sit independently in an upright position. Having the ability to move forward, grab food, and move their body around is also significant because if they ever do choke, they have that ability to do what they need to do to get it out versus being constrained in their seat.
The other sign that you need to look for is that their tongue thrust reflex is diminished. The tongue thrust reflex is stimulated with touch to the lips or tongue causing it to stick out and this shows that a baby is not ready to have anything in their mouth yet.
Ultimately, knowing when it’s time for your baby’s first solid food is far more about what your baby can do rather than how old they are.
Good foods to introduce to your baby
Babies build up all the iron that they need in their body when they’re in the womb, which lasts them until around 6 months of age. Once the six months of age mark hits, then their iron stores start to deplete. So that means it’s important to supplement them with iron from their diet.
High iron foods include fish, any type of meat, whether beef, lamb, chicken or turkey and beans, lentils, chickpeas and tofu. These types of food can sometimes be more difficult to consume, so it’s important to offer them early so that your baby can practice and ensure they’re actually getting enough iron in to meet all of their needs.
Moving your baby onto lumpy textures and finger foods before nine months of age has been shown to decrease the chance of developing picky eating later on, so once your baby has shown signs of mastering purees, it’s important to move on to different textures.
At the start of a baby’s weaning journey, we know that they don’t tend to consume much food. Therefore high calorie foods they can fill up on including starchy foods like potatoes, as well as high fat foods like avocado or egg yolk, are all energy dense and easy foods to eat.
It’s important to note that you should wait until after their first birthday to introduce honey, as it contains bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to infant botulism, which is a very serious illness.
How to introduce solids to baby
Making it the most positive experience possible is important in establishing a supportive environment to try new foods. Having a two-way communication process between you and your baby the whole time means that we can continually advance them along in their skills as they give off certain cues.
Bringing your baby to the table and making them feel part of the social occasion makes them feel like a participant. You also don’t need to hover over them the whole time as this can be off putting for them.
Edwena Kennedy is a registered pediatric dietitian who loves helping parents raise healthy children who can eat with confidence. Edwena believes that it is every parent’s right to have easy access to the correct and most up to date information on feeding their babies, toddlers and kids. This is why she created ‘My Little Eater’ as a simple and easy way for parents to get the information, guidance and support they need to take their child along the entire feeding journey in the healthiest way possible.
For more information about introducing solids to your baby, don’t forget to check out Juna’s comprehensive ‘Starting Solids’ course here.
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If you have feedback or know someone who would be a great guest on the show, please reach to Sarah@juna.co.