Avoid relying on outdated information about introducing your baby to solids.
Once your baby is around 4-5 months old you will want to think about weaning. Introducing solid foods has always been a difficult issue for new parents because the rules on what you can and can’t give your child changes so dramatically from one year to the next.
It’s no good relying on your mum or friends with older kids either because the advice will almost certainly have changed significantly.
According to the experts, these are the top 5 myths surrounding what food are suitable for young babies just starting out.
Myth #1: You baby is ready for solid food if they start to reach out for it
Fact: According to Pediatrician Catherine Pound who practices at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, babies as young as 12 weeks can often show an interest in solid food but there are other factors you need to consider before offering solid food.
Age is important – pediatricians recommend staying away from solid foods until around 6 months (give or take a few weeks) and that parents should look at things like the ability to sit, support the head and be coordinated enough to chew and swallow as key factors before starting to give their baby solid food.
Myth #2: You must give a certain food first
Fact: Catherine Pound says that the type of food you give your child is not relevant as long as it contains iron – as your child reaches around 6 months of age they need to be taking in iron because their own stores are depleted.
This is backed up by Sarah Remmer, a registered dietitian based in Calgary. There are plenty of cereals around that have been fortified to include iron that you could feed your child but equally finely minced fish or meat, cooked eggs, or beans and lentils are fine for first foods.
The introduction of solid foods also plays a vital role in developing your child’s oral motor skills so they need to have a certain amount of coordination there before you begin.
Myth #3: First foods should be very thin purées
Fact: If you are starting solids at 6 months you don’t need to give your child really runny food. According to Sarah Remmer, a baby can use their gums to munch on food. By all means, use purées, but also allow your child to chew down and practice feeding themselves.
Finger foods give your baby the child to practice fine motor movements as well as increase their oral motor skills and gives them a chance to control the speed and quantity they eat.
Things like vegetables, cooked until tender, and grated cheese are good. Choking is relatively rare but it may be wise to take a First Aid course before you begin.
Certain foods are more likely to cause choking so avoid things like small circular shaped foods, stringy veg, and fruit, sticky foods (like peanut butter), popcorn, whole nuts, fish with bones.
Even with the softest of foods your child is likely to gag. This is completely normal so please don’t panic. Small babies have a strong gag reflex – this is to avoid choking by encouraging them to move large pieces of food back to the front of the mouth for more chewing.
Myth #4: Bland food is best for baby
Fact: Actually flavor is something that you might want to introduce earlier rather than because according to Sarah Remmer a variety of flavors can make your child less fussy about food later on. A little dash of cinnamon or cumin is fine, just avoid things like added salt and sugar.
Myth #5: If you give them peanuts too early they will develop an allergy
Fact: There were new guidelines released this year following on from a study carried out in 2015 that contradicts this. The evidence is that the early introduction of peanuts actually decreases the incidence of peanut allergy.
Immunologists, dietitians, and multiple health institutes are confirming this. However, remember whole peanuts can cause choking. Try mixing some peanut butter into some yogurt or adding some crushed nuts in with their apple sauce. These are great ways of introducing peanuts to your child.
If your six-month-old baby doesn’t like a certain food stop it for a while and try again later. Avoid getting into a battle of wills – this is the last thing you want at the dinner table!