Join me as you hear the talk I gave parents at Baby Bistro (a breastfeeding support group of mothers) and discuss the best timing for starting solids in a baby’s diet.
Today I’m going to talk to you guys about baby’s first foods – solid foods. I’m going to go through, talk about when, some parent concerns, and then I came up with some common questions that I thought maybe you guys were to ask about foods and some things that are out there in the news that you’re hearing about baby foods. So I’ll just get started.
When do we start solid foods? Typically we recommend, and definitely the American Academy of pediatrics recommends six months. We want to offer a variety of foods, a variety of textures, definitely introducing before four months of age there’s really not a lot of benefit there. More so a little bit of concern with weight gain and fat deposition in infancy and early childhood offering foods earlier. We used to say, “Oh, there’s a concern for allergies”. That’s really not the concern. It’s more of a body habitus concern that offering foods earlier would have We also do recommend that babies are exposed to the same food multiple times. 10 to 15 times is kind of the number that we throw out there. We noticed that babies are more likely to eat the things that they see on your plates, as well as on siblings plates. That’s why a little bit older is also recommended. People recommend three to five days with the same food, just so that we know. “Does your baby have a reaction to that?”
A lot of parental concerns come around offering solid foods. I think the first one is, do I need to offer food because my baby is fussy. Not all fussing is hunger. Sometimes we need to think about maybe some other soothing cues for our babies and that food may not always be the answer. Especially in the context of the moment. Right? You’ve just had your baby, it’s less than two hours. They’re probably not hungry. There might be something else that they’re trying to communicate to you.
Seems to be a little bit of confusion on needing to offer food multiple times. sometimes parents will like, “I offered this once and my baby doesn’t like it.” it’s something new, this is a person that’s only had a liquid diet, either your milk or formula. And so there’s lots of different things going on there. They’re having to learn core control to hold themselves up- right. They’re having to accept something else in their mouth besides a nipple from a bottle or your nipple. And they’re also needing to learn how to put the tongue to the roof of their mouth to swallow. So there’s. A lot of things going on, but just be patient offering more than one time will help them to work through certain textures and the mechanics of feeding.
I think sometimes parents get concerned about wasting food.” Oh, I’ve opened this jar, we’ve got to offer the whole thing.” My recommendation there is to take out a serving size out of the jar which could be a couple ounces at first. It’s usually not very much and close up the jar so that you can use that second half and don’t feel pressured to feed the whole jar, finish the plate. We grew up in that generation of, I need to finish my plate clean plate. You don’t need to do that. So it takes the serving size out you can go ahead and save the other half of that jar or , that’s left over.
Why wait until six months. Most of that is just so that kids are developmentally appropriate. They’re able to sit up. They’ve got a little bit more of that tummy core strength, which I don’t have. But they’re holding their head up there sitting with limited assistance . They’re usually tracking you when you’re eating and opening their mouth with purpose. Some of those are signs of readiness and we tend to find those closer to six months.
There’s a great website by the American Academy of pediatrics called healthy children.org, / growing healthy. It’s got a lot of information on there. Any question you can have is probably listed on there. There’s some more questions that I thought I would go through if you guys are good with that.
The first one and one that I get a lot is can I put cereal in the bottle to feed my baby? There are bottles that are made to have solid foods come out of them, but we don’t recommend that. Reason being is that usually the hole is not big enough. The food will plug up at some point in time. Kids have to pull really hard. They will cause they’re strong to release that solid coming out of the bottle. And sometimes they pull it down into their lungs, we get concerned that you’re getting food, pneumonia. They’re very hard to treat. So we always like to be fed off of a spoon with solid foods.
What is baby led weaning? This is a concept popularized in the UK by Gil Rapley and Tracy Merkel. It’s skipping purees at six months and going straight to solid foods. The claim with it is that it helps with hand-eye coordination. They do tell you to avoid raw vegetables, nuts seeds, things like that. Part of the concern with this a little bit is just the choking factor. If you’re offering solids and they’re not chokable. I think it’s okay, but you do want to make sure that you’re looking at that. The baby led weaning is , give them a whole piece of watermelon. Food is hard to dig out when you’re choking on it. That’s why we tend to offer purees first to gain that oral motor strength and then move on in texture. If you’re doing baby led weaning, the biggest thing is just avoiding raw fruits, vegetables, things that are very, very hard, because obviously those are great little things that fit in their airway.
Which food first? We say pureed, we tend to recommend cereals first, get them used to that. Maybe offer twice a day, the consistency of soupy mustard, and then moving on to , vegetables, fruits. The thing to remember when you start feeding is to go slow. The same thing, which seems very boring to you and I all my baby has had a sweet potatoes, but then we know what does sweet potatoes do to your baby? If we add a product or a food that has lots of different things in it, chicken, Apple, green pea dinner, and we have a reaction that’s going to be really hard for us to determine what was it in that food that caused the problem. So just remembering start out, slow. Same single ingredient food for three to four days.
Is it okay to make your own baby food? Absolutely. You can definitely make your own baby food. It can be very cost-effective it’s fairly cheap actually to do that. You don’t have to, but you can do it. There’s ease of offering a little bit of the same thing. Maybe your family is having, if you’re making it yourself, because it’s going to be things that you have at home. Easy to do, use a blender food processor, hand mixer. My recommendation. If you’re making your own food, get a good book. I like a book called first foods by Annabel Klibel. It goes through different preparations, how to freeze it. Things like that. Note that if you do put breast milk or formula in it, it doesn’t last in the freezer as long as if you put just single ingredient, fruits, vegetables.
It is good to remember offer the rainbow of foods. Right? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about the colorful plate. It’s a good idea. It’s the way we get all macronutrients into our diet. I will tell you, once you start feeding your babies, your plate will become better because you’re like, Hey, everything on here is kind of beige, I need something green. I need something red to balance out the diet. When you’re making your own food, typically you freeze it. I recommend putting it in. Ice cube, trays, dollar store item. One cube is about a serving. It lasts in the freezer for about three months.
What’s up with arsenic and rice cereal? Doesn’t everyone hear that? Rice out of all of the grain food groups is the grain that picks up the most arsenic from groundwater. Arsenic has put out into the environment by pollution, it leaches into water and then gets into crops. Rice out of any of the cereals is the one that’s going to have the most of it if it’s present. It’s okay to use other types of cereals. You don’t necessarily have to start with rice. You can do oats, you can do barley, you can do couscous, all these things. There are concerns about heavy metals so I thought I would touch base on that. Actually just recently, I think Thursday, February 4th, there was a congressional report that was put out that identified that baby manufacturers had now realized that secondary to where the crops were coming from. The AAP and committee on nutrition. They’ve shared that article on that healthy children.org, just to provide guidance to us in the pediatric world, but also to you as parents looking at that.
There can be certain rice grains that you offer that have less arsenic in it. Brown rice is the highest in arsenic, white rice and sushi rice, basmati rice has less arsenic in it. Fun facts for free. If you want to make rice and offer that, we tell you rinse the rice beforehand, cook it with extra water, and then once it’s done cooking, pour off that water and that helps to decrease that amount of arsenic. But the important thing and I think the take home message for you guys to remember is just switch things up, offering a variety of foods. WIll help you avoid getting heavy metal contamination.
The concern there with heavy metals, if you’re like, what is she talking about? It’s in reference to brain development. You need to realize there are other things that go into that as far as social factors, genetic factors, environmental factors. There’s more than one thing that plays into that, but you can play a role by looking at reading your labels and looking at what’s in that
Which metals are they talking about Arsenic? The one you probably hear a lot about that lead cadmium and mercury are also in that group of heavy metals as well.
There isn’t really a difference between organic food and non-organic labeled food. As far as heavy metal content, they both have it, if it’s a food that picks that up.
Do they recommend testing for that? They don’t it’s unproven, but it’s also somewhat inaccurate. As far as measuring those levels.
But that’s my spiel on feeding. The thing to think about is waiting til six months go really slow. So the same thing for three to four days, super boring, but helps you out. I always say put a sticky on the refrigerator or Monday sweet potatoes so that, you know, by Thursday, Friday, you’re ready to start something new. Talk to your provider, if you do have family history and make them aware and they’ll discuss and walk you through exposure. Hopefully that was informative, not too much, but a little bit of information.
Hopefully that podcast on solid foods was helpful. If you are interested in working with me one-on-one to coach your baby from first breaths to first steps click on the link in this podcast and you can get ahold of me until next time, be well