First Foods

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First Foods

December 4, 2017

Written by: Just The Facts, Baby 

When and how to introduce solids to your baby’s diet

As if first foods weren’t confusing enough, some doctors are now recommending meat as your baby’s first taste. Studies have found that only five percent of iron in fortified cereal is absorbed by a baby, leading some doctors to suggest chicken and beef as early as six months. Confused? Read on to learn more about what to feed your baby–and when to feed it.

 

Vitamin D should be supplemented to all breastfeeding babies from birth.

Age: 6 to 8 months

Most experts, including Health Canada, say to start solids at six months. Until this age all the nutrients a newborn needs are found in breast milk and/or formula, and an early digestive system is too immature to handle whole foods.

When it comes to selecting what baby’s first food should be, everyone seems to have a different opinion. “I’m a big advocate of single grain cereals or vegetables first,” says Dr. Joey Shulman, author of Winning the Food Fight. “Starting with fruit can help develop a sweet tooth later in life.”

Lianne Phillipson-Webb, nutritionist and founder of Sprout Right, favours starting with fruits and veggies. “Cereal is a bland, processed food,” says Phillipson-Webb. Most baby cereals provide minimal nutrients and don’t encourage a healthy palette.

Since all experts agree that vegetables are essential edibles, they are the best place to start. “Butternut squash is a great first food because it’s a watery puree,” says Phillipson-Webb. Carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, green peas, broccoli, avocado, cauliflower, turnip, green beans and beets are also great choices for early veggies.

Once you’ve decided on your baby’s first fare, spoon feed a little puree two or three times a day. Your baby will let you know when she’s had enough. Wait four to five days before introducing the next new food. If you notice any change in your child’s bowel movements, a skin rash or an altered mood, stop the new food and mention it to your doctor. You can reintroduce the food again in a month or two.

After you’ve given baby a few different vegetables, try a single grain cereal (usually rice) or a fruit such as apples, pear, papaya, banana, cherries, prunes, dried apricots, blueberries, plums, or apricots. Continue to wait four or five days before introducing each new food.

 

Age: 8 to 11 months

Your baby’s moving more, which means she needs a wider range of food. By this age baby’s digestive system is advanced enough to handle most dairy, meat, lentils and tofu. You can also introduce egg yolk and some of the more reactive produce such as strawberries and tomatoes. Experts once said to shy away from all nuts, but certain seeds and nut butters such as Tahini, almond butter and sunflower are fine to try at this age.

When it comes to texture, let your baby be the guide. Most children are ready to start finger foods such as small pieces of “O” type cereal and soft pieces of steamed veggies around eight to 10 months but don’t push it if your child gags or seems uncomfortable.

 

Age: 12 months+

Babies can start eating bits of the family dinner and pretty much any food is fare game. Experts say to hold off on egg whites and honey until age one because their digestive system isn’t mature enough yet.

 

Homemade versus Prepared

“Making your own baby food is amazing, but a lot of people just don’t have the time,” says Shulman. Using a combination of prepared purees and homemade is a great compromise. “Typically jarred fruit doesn’t alter as much in taste as vegetables,” says Phillipson-Webb, who suggests making your own veggies.

If you opt for jarred or frozen purees, make sure there is no added sugars and choose organic whenever possible. And always do a taste test. “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t feed it to your baby,” says Shulman.

 

Picky Eaters

Picky eating is rare in the first year, but a diversified palette now can help negate food struggles later. If your baby turns her nose up at a food, she may be teething or not feeling well so try it again later. If your child really doesn’t like something, don’t give up. “It can take up to 12 times before they ‘get’ a particular food,” says Phillipson-Webb.

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