When I became a mum to my first son Ben, I was so eager for him to get to the next stage of everything. When was he going to smile, walk, talk or eat real food? I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed and I did that exclusively for the first 7 months until I went back to work. It was around the same time that I began introducing food into his diet.
6 months of age is the time to start thinking about introducing solid food but there is no harm to exclusively breastfeed for the first year. Your baby will get all the nutrients he/she needs through your breast milk. Even if you do introduce solid food, the formula or breast milk intake is still their main source of nutrition and should be until 12 months of age.
When thinking about what foods to introduce into your baby’s diet first, many people will suggest cereal in the form of oats, rice or barley. The concern I have with giving any type of grains as a first food is that they contain starch. To break down starch in our bodies, we require digestive enzymes and babies only start producing the enzyme needed in the proper quantity around 12 months of age.
Boxed infant cereals should also be avoided. These are highly processed so most of the nutrients have been removed and other sketchy ingredients may have been added that your baby should not be exposed to. Rice cereal, for example is often made with white rice and this is a refined carbohydrate that I highly recommend my big and small clients avoid. By feeding your baby a processed cereal you could be programming their appetite to want more cookies, candy & white bread later in life.
When it comes time to introduce solid foods, I recommend starting your baby on fruits & vegetables and preferably home-made purees. It’s really easy, just cook the food in batches ahead of time and freeze it in ice cube size portions. If you want to discuss an appropriate feeding schedule for your baby, make an appointment with a Nutritionist (like me 🙂 ).
An important point to make is that when introducing new foods to your baby, watch out for any signs of allergies and constipation. It’s a good idea to keep a food journal and note down any reactions both in behaviour and physical symptoms that may occur. Also, remember to follow your baby’s cues. If they are not ready for food, don’t force it, let them lead the way.