Introducing Baby’s First Foods!
Feeling Confused about What Foods to Introduce to Your Baby?
I believe we would all agree that it would be near impossible to find any area of parenting that has a clear cut right and wrong way of doing things, correct? The introduction of baby’s first foods is no different. Every parent will have thoughts about what is best for their child. Each parent will talk to their friends, their healthcare practitioners and their own moms and will get different advice from everyone! It can be confusing and overwhelming.
Our first advice is to learn about all of the different ‘approaches’ and choose something you feel comfortable with.
This should be a time of fun and enjoyment!
There are varying thoughts on when to introduce first foods – ranging from 4 months to 6 months or even later. There is also great variation about which foods are best to introduce first – meat, rice cereal, fruits and veggies. We see a large number of children in our clinic that present with allergy related concerns such as eczema, ear infections, asthma and various digestive problems. We do feel that there is a link between the abundant number of these health concerns in children and the food that they are eating. Since babies are born with immature digestive systems and it takes greater than 6 months for this system to mature, we have continually seen benefits in offering a child a more hypoallergenic diet for their first months of eating foods. A child may not have a severe, anaphylactic reaction to a food, but this does not mean that their body is tolerating it well. We encourage parents to look for the smaller, more subtle changes such as rashes, runny nose, change in bowel patterns or sleep patterns. Repeated consumption of a food that your body is sensitive will, over time, lead to other concerns (such as those little above: eczema, ear infections, etc). We feel that most of these concerns are preventable and can be treated naturally.
Many parents connect with idea of baby led weaning. This can offer advantages such as having a child become more independent and have more control over how much they wish to eat. While this is very true, we still do feel there is great value to eating purees. There is so much variety and nutrition that can be obtained in a single puree. If a child has three purees in one meal, they can often have 5-6 different kinds of veggies, some grains, and protein all in one. A child can still be introduced to ‘lumps and bumps’ by making the purees less smooth.
What about the iron? For a healthy, full term infant, iron levels can be maintained by including such foods as dried fruits, dark leafy greens, molasses, lentils and beans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and sweet potatoes. Meat can be added when a parent feels comfortable.
The most recent changes to the new Canadian feeding guidelines are recommending to discontinue the use of a sippy cup. We feel that although, yes, this will lead to mature feeding skills – do we really need our 6 month old to be mature? They are only an infant for a short period of time and our thoughts are that if a sippy cup provides an avenue to get healthy amounts of water into their little bodies, then we are all for continuing the sippy cup!