Written by Aimee Ketchum
With this being the food issue, it only makes sense to address the palate of our youngest foodies. You may be
thinking, what is there to know? It’s breast or bottle. Well, it’s much more complicated than that. My older daughter was ready for solid foods by six months. She was pushing her bottle away and reaching for my dinner. Meanwhile, my younger daughter wanted nothing to do with food until close to her second birthday! So, when is the right time to begin solid foods?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk as the sole source of nutrition for all babies for the first six months. They recommend starting solid foods at six months but continuing to breastfeed until at least 12 months. They use to recommend starting solid food at four months but they found that babies derived a greater nutritional benefit from two more months of solely breast milk. As an occupational therapist, I was very happy with
this new recommendation as the tongue thrust reflex is at height at four months, making spoon-feeding very challenging!
There are some signs of feeding readiness that we need to take into consideration as babies approach six months. Do they have good head control? Do they open their mouths when food comes their way? Can they transfer food from their tongues to swallow it or do they spit it out?
So, what should baby’s first course be? Traditionally, iron-fortified single grain cereals are introduced first. Many pediatricians will recommend starting vegetables before fruits, but there is no evidence that babies will develop a sweet tooth if you start with fruits. Babies are typically born with a preference for sweets but the order of introducing foods does not change that. Once you start introducing new foods, give your baby one new food at a time, waiting a few days in between each food so you can watch for any reactions or allergies. Alternate food groups and remember,
meat and vegetables generally contain more nutrients per serving than fruits or cereals.
I was a big fan of making my own baby food for my babies. It’s so easy to do, and you can freeze pureed food in ice cube trays for perfectly portioned baby entrées. The American Academy of pPediatrics does warn that if you are making your own baby food, be aware that homemade spinach, beets, green beans, squash, and carrots are not recommended before six months as they may contain large amounts of nitrates. Stick to peas, corn, avocado and sweet potatoes.
When your baby starts finger foods, just remember to avoid any potential choking hazards. Finger foods at early ages should still not require any chewing. When babies start solid foods, you can add a little bit of water in a cup to their diet. Try to avoid all fruit juices. Juice contains excess sugar and reduces the baby’s appetite for more nutritious food. It can also cause tooth decay, diaper rash, diarrhea, and excessive weight gain.
Babies are born with over 40,000 taste buds. Taste buds diminish over time, as adults are lucky to have 10,000 taste buds. Your baby’s tastes are ever changing. If your baby turns their nose up at something you spent all day cooking and pureeing, don’t worry, just try again next week. It will keep in an ice cube tray in the freezer.